Sonny Gray will get at least one more chance to show he deserves to keep his place in New York’s rotation Ondrej Palat Jersey , though the Yankees are growing increasingly concerned about the struggling starter.
Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer, Yangervis Solarte reached base four times and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Gray and the Yankees 6-2 on Friday night.
Smoak connected in Toronto’s five-run second inning, when the Blue Jays batted around and put an early end to Gray’s outing.
”I am concerned but we also believe in the stuff,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Gray. ”We’ve got to try and help him right the ship a little bit.”
Gray (5-7) allowed five runs and six hits in two innings, his shortest start of the season and his third straight loss.
”It’s not early in the season anymore,” Gray said. ”This is when you’re expected to go out there and contribute and get in some type of rhythm and put together solid starts back to back. I haven’t even been close to being able to do that.”
Gray lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his previous start, matching a season worst by allowing six runs in an 11-0 loss to the division-leading Boston Red Sox.
Boone said Gray will face Baltimore next week and dismissed the idea of skipping Gray to help clear his head.
”Part of it is right now we feel like he’s our best option,” Boone said.
Solarte went 3 for 4 with a walk as the Blue Jays won for the 12th time in 16 home games.
Aaron Hicks homered and had two RBIs in the opener of New York’s 11-game road trip. Hicks has hit five home runs in his past five games.
Gray retired the first two batters before loading the bases with two walks and a single. He escaped unscathed when Russell Martin struck out swinging.
Things went downhill for Gray in the second, which began with Randal Grichuk’s double. One out later, Devon Travis and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back RBI singles. Smoak capped the inning with a two-out homer, his 12th.
Hicks hit a solo home run in the third, his career-high 16th, then chased Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. Joe Biagini came on and struck out Giancarlo Stanton looking, then got Didi Gregorius to fly out.
New York went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners stranded.
”We just didn’t get that hit to put us over tonight,” Boone said.
Gaviglio allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. Gaviglio is winless in seven starts, dating to a May 25 victory at Philadelphia.
Biagni (1-5) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win, snapping a streak of 10 straight losing decisions.
Five Blue Jays relievers combined to pitch 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
”Our bullpen did some kind of job,” manager John Gibbons said.
Boone said finishing off hitters is Gray’s biggest challenge.
”It’s getting himself into good counts and making pitches when he has a chance to put guys away,” Boone said. ”That’s what he’s really struggled with.”
David Hale pitched 5 2/3 innings in relief of Gray, his longest career outing as a reliever. Hale allowed one run and five hits.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Sallie Gibbons, the 80-year-old mother of John Gibbons, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to her son. ”It made my night, that’s for sure,” said Gibbons, who got his mom to autograph the ball afterward.
Yankees: New York recalled INF Tyler Wade from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He takes the place of 2B Gleyber Torres (right hip), who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday. … RHP Masahiro Tanaka (left and right hamstring strains) allowed two runs and three hits in five innings in a rehab start at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Tanaka is expected to return to New York’s rotation next Tuesday at Baltimore. … Boone said LHP CC Sabathia will pitch the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Orioles. New York will call up a pitcher from the minors to start Game 2, Boone said Ryan Callahan Jersey , with RHP Luis Cessa and RHP Jonathan Loaisiga among the candidates.
Blue Jays: LHP Jaime Garcia (shoulder) felt good after a bullpen session Friday and will be re-evaluated Saturday. He has yet to begin a rehab assignment. … Utilityman Darnell Sweeney cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Yankees RHP Luis Severino (13-2, 1.98) faces Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-4, 4.03) on Saturday afternoon. Severino, who leads the majors in wins, will be pitching on extra rest thanks to New York’s off day Thursday. Happ lost to Detroit last Sunday, matching season worsts by allowing seven runs and 10 hits. The defeat snapped Happ’s streak of six straight winning decisions.
Since divisional play began in 1969, only three times has a division had two teams with at least 100 wins.
That could happen again this year in the AL East – and maybe the AL West as well.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Mariners are all on pace to win over 100 games, and they’ve created tight races atop those two divisions. With two wild cards in each league, those four teams have some breathing room in the race for the postseason, but there should be plenty of incentive to win the division title and avoid the one-game, winner-take-all scenario that the wild cards have to deal with.
The Yankees and Red Sox just played a three-game series in New York. The games weren’t all that suspenseful – they ended 8-1, 11-0 and 11-1, with the Yankees winning two of three.
The first time two teams from one division won at least 100 games was in 1980, when the Yankees (103-59) outlasted the Orioles (100-62) atop the AL East. A seven-game winning streak in mid-September helped New York hold on.
In 1993, the last year before the wild card, the Braves (104-58) and Giants (103-59) dueled all the way to the final day before San Francisco was done in by a 12-1 loss to the rival Dodgers. Atlanta was 10 games out on the morning of July 23 but went 49-16 the rest of the way.
The only time in the six-division era that a 100-win team failed to finish first was when Oakland went 102-60 in 2001 and still ended up 14 games behind a 116-win Seattle team.
None of the teams involved in those three previous examples made it to the World Series, so consider that a word of caution to this year’s American League behemoths.
Some other developments around the majors:
If the Mariners make the postseason this year, it will be their first appearance since that remarkable 2001 season. Baseball’s next-longest drought belongs to the Marlins, who haven’t made it since winning the World Series as a wild card in 2003.
The addition of extra wild cards has made it easier for teams to avoid long stretches without a postseason berth. The Padres haven’t made it since 2006 and the White Sox haven’t been in since 2008. Aside from those two teams, the Marlins and the Mariners, every major league franchise has made the postseason at least once since 2011.
The outfield wall in Toronto is high enough that it doesn’t lend itself to home run-robbing catches. Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar figured out a solution, however, planting a foot on the wall and using it to vault himself up while making a catch on a drive by Detroit’s Nicholas Castellanos. Even Castellanos applauded that catch Sunday.
LINES OF THE WEEK
Two from the Red Sox-Yankees series: Chris Sale allowed one hit in seven innings, striking out 11 in Boston’s 11-0 win Saturday night. The following evening, it was New York delivering an 11-1 blowout. Aaron Hicks hit three home runs for the Yankees in that game.
Sale has a 1.73 career ERA against the Yankees, best among pitchers with at least 10 starts against them since 1920. But Sunday’s six-homer barrage brought New York’s season total to 137, a franchise record for before the All-Star break.