NEW YORK -- Despite getting off to a tough start in the first couple of innings against the Yankees' powerful lineup, Clayton Richard ended up having a quality start, his first of the year. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, as the Blue Jays were edged by the Yanks, 4-3, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
Richard had a first inning he would like to forget. The first two hitters he faced -- DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge -- each hit a solo home run to make it a 2-0 game. By the second inning, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead, thanks to a solo homer by Gleyber Torres.
However, Richard settled down. After Torres' homer, Richard held the Yanks scoreless for the next 4 1/3 innings. It helped that the 35-year-old southpaw was attacking the zone and keeping his slider down.
“I kept the ball in the park, for the most part,” Richard said. “You come into this place knowing that their lineup does damage. How quickly that happened in the first inning, it was kind of a pitcher’s nightmare.
“We made small adjustments that kept me down. We were able to get some quick outs after that. The defense played extremely well. We were able to make a little bit of a comeback. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to do the job.”
The Blue Jays almost took Richard off the hook by making it a game against Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. In the sixth inning, designated hitter Eric Sogard hit a sacrifice fly, scoring shortstop Freddy Galvis, while catcher Danny Jansen scored the second run for Toronto on a single by third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The Blue Jays nearly tied the score against closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning. The team made it a one-run game when Randal Grichuk singled to center field, scoring Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Once again, the game weighed in the balance between Chapman and Galvis. As he did on Monday, Toronto's shortstop gave Chapman a battle in the second game of the series. This time, Galvis was behind quickly, 0-2, but Chapman had to throw five more pitches before Galvis grounded out to LeMahieu at second base to end the game.
“The last pitch by Chapman was really good,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That was the only way he was going to get him out. Galvis was locked in and he was all good before he grounded to second base. It was an outstanding at-bat.”
Richard shared his manager's sentiment about Galvis.
“When anybody watches Freddy go about his business, it’s really impressive,” Richard said. “People are focused on the clutch situations, but you have to look at innings one through nine to appreciate what he does. If you do that, you are not surprised by the at-bat in the ninth. You have to understand the work he has put into it. It gives him a chance and allows him to be himself in that situation, because he is so prepared.”
Although Toronto is 29-51, Montoyo is seeing progress from his team. The Blue Jays took two out of three against the Red Sox in their last series and are playing the Yanks tough.
“We are playing good baseball,” the manager said. “We are not winning every game, but we are swinging the bats. We are playing good defense. That’s what I mean when I say progress. We are playing good baseball.”