Despite its cancellation this summer, the 2020 Home Run Derby was apparently held this week in New York with the Blue Jays pitching to the Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers launched 19 home runs in three games, a new Major League record for a three-game span, sweeping the Blue Jays with Thursday night's 10-7 result. The Yankees also became the first team in MLB history to hit six or more home runs in three consecutive games.
The Blue Jays made things interesting in the ninth inning with a four-run rally, but a massive fourth inning from the Yankees had put the game out of reach.
Chase Anderson allowed an RBI double to Gary Sánchez to put the Blue Jays behind, then it unraveled on just three pitches. On the first pitch, Brett Gardner launched a two-run shot. On the second, DJ LeMahieu made it back-to-back homers. On the third, Luke Voit made it three in a row with his fourth of the series and MLB-leading 20th of the season.
The Yankees still weren’t done. Giancarlo Stanton went yard just one out later and, before Anderson could escape the inning, Gleyber Torres launched the fifth home run of the frame. Home runs have been a major issue for the Blue Jays’ pitching staff recently, but this series against the Yankees has taken the worry to a different level.
“Looking back, I’m going to have to look at some video to see if I was doing something where they could recognize what I was throwing,” Anderson said after the loss. “Other than that, not a pleasurable inning to be a part of, for sure.”
Most clubs would be unhappy with giving up 19 runs over a three-game series -- but 19 home runs? It’s a record the Blue Jays want no part of, and it’s cause for concern with the postseason approaching.
This series aside, the Blue Jays are still expected to make their first postseason appearance since 2016 and have shown the ability to steal games this season. They’d love to have a shutdown pitching performance, but the pitching staff needs to give the lineup a chance. This young group of hitters is capable of putting up double-digit runs any night, but the Blue Jays need that to be enough.
Toronto’s standing for the postseason wasn’t impacted much by this loss, given how few games remain and how the teams behind are performing. This series bumped the Blue Jays from a half-game up on the Yankees to 2 1/2 games back, but even as they hold the eighth and final American League playoff spot, the Blue Jays have a comfortable cushion over the Mariners, Orioles and Tigers.
“It’s fine. We’re fine. We won nine straight series or tied,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We had a bad series, that happens. We came into here and they were a hot team playing, and they ended up hot. My team didn’t quit there at the end.”
On another night, the story would have been Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who did his best Yankees impression Thursday by launching two home runs of his own. Gurriel has 10 homers on the season and four over his last four games. He also doubled and singled to go 4-for-4, and combine that with some impressive defensive plays over the past week, Gurriel is playing as confident a brand of baseball as the Blue Jays have seen.
Gurriel was batting seventh on Thursday, low in the order for a hitter who now has a .907 OPS. The No. 3 spot could be a logical home for him, given how the lineup has looked recently. Also, Montoyo said all the way back in Spring Training that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. likes hitting behind Gurriel because he feels pitchers approach Gurriel similarly.
“[Gurriel] being there stretched out the lineup, but I could see that,” Montoyo said. “He’s one of our best hitters.”