NEW YORK – In the seventh inning, with two on, one out, righty Jonathan Loiaisiga on the mound and lefty Wandy Peralta warming in the bullpen, John Schneider decided it was time to take his shot.
First, the interim Toronto Blue Jays manager sent up Cavan Biggio to hit for Santiago Espinal, prompting New York Yankees counterpart Aaron Boone to bring in Peralta. Then, Schneider pulled back Biggio and sent up George Springer, who didn’t start because of lingering knee soreness, and he promptly delivered a base hit that loaded the bases.
Jackie Bradley Jr. then worked a left-on-left walk to tie the game 2-2 and the Blue Jays were set up with an upper hand matchup as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. came up as the third batter Peralta had to face.
Peralta, however, prevailed, inducing a groundball to shortstop that led to a force out at home, Boone then brought in Lou Trivino to face Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and he grounded out to short to end the frame.
The missed opportunity proved costly immediately, as Jose Trevino opened the bottom half with an infield single, was sacrificed over to second and scored when Andrew Benintendi took Adam Cimber deep, the decisive blow in a sweep averting 4-2 Yankees win Sunday afternoon.
The late drama capped a wild weekend in the Bronx for the Blue Jays (65-54), who steadied themselves with a strong series against the American League East leaders, but might have left a game on the table.
Still, they’ll head into Monday’s day off feeling much better than they did at the beginning of the week when they were struggling to pull themselves out of an extended skid. A three-game set at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox begins Tuesday night.
The finale against the Yankees featured all kinds of emotions, as Alek Manoah battled fellow all-star Nestor Cortes for six innings, with tempers flaring after the Blue Jays righty hit Aaron Judge in the fifth before a surly crowd of 46,958 on Paul O’Neill Day.
Manoah’s game plan against Judge was pretty evident as the first time they faced off, he got in tight on the Yankees slugger’s hands with a first-pitch fastball and then moved away with a couple more two-seamers, inducing a groundout to third base.
This what it looked like.
In the third inning, when they faced off a second time, Manoah once again started Judge with a fastball in off the plate, although this time not quite as far in as the one in the previous at-bat. Three sliders later, the MVP candidate was headed back to the dugout after striking out.
So, when Judge came back to the plate in the fifth, after Andrew Benintendi’s one-out double, there should have been little surprise that Manoah, once again, began the plate appearance with a fastball in. The difference this time was that he missed too far in, clipping Judge above the left elbow, prompting Judge to shake his head in frustration.
As the Yankees dugout got on Manoah, Judge put his hand up to calm his teammates, but Gerrit Cole still jumped over the dugout fence, yelling to the mound. As he was pulled back, Manoah and Judge talked calmly by first base, taking the temperature down.
Manoah ended up working out of that jam to keep the game 2-1, on afternoon he delivered six gutsy innings of two-run, one-earned ball, striking out eight. The damage against him came in the first, when the Yankees played hit and run with two out and DJ LeMahieu singled through the vacated spot at shortstop and Gurriel threw the ball away trying to get the runner at third, allowing Anthony Rizzo to score easily.
After Whit Merrifield’s first homer with the Blue Jays – up and over after two hops on the top of the wall – tied the game up in the third, LeMahieu ripped a 101 m.p.h. grounder that Bo Bichette couldn’t short hop, allowing bringing in the go-ahead run in the bottom half.