NEW YORK -- Sonny Gray was certain that he had identified the mechanical flaw that was holding back his top-level performance, and so the right-hander voiced a plan to simplify that approach and unveil those adjustments at his next opportunity. Back to the drawing board.Gray's early-season struggles continued on Friday
NEW YORK -- Sonny Gray was certain that he had identified the mechanical flaw that was holding back his top-level performance, and so the right-hander voiced a plan to simplify that approach and unveil those adjustments at his next opportunity. Back to the drawing board.
Gray's early-season struggles continued on Friday as the right-hander coughed up a pair of leads while being peppered for five runs in 3 1/3 innings by the Blue Jays, who handed the Yankees an 8-5 loss on a frigid evening at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm frustrated, yeah, obviously," Gray said. "I expect a lot more from myself. I gave the lead right back up, and that's frustrating not only for myself but the rest of the guys in the [clubhouse], for sure."
Christopher Austin and Giancarlo Stanton hit a pair of two-run homers into the right-field seats to stake Gray to an early lead, with Austin getting to Marco Estrada for the third time this season and Stanton snapping a 50 at-bat homerless streak.
Gray couldn't make either blast hold up. Teoscar Hernandez cracked a two-run shot in the third inning and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. enjoyed a memorable Major League debut, giving Toronto a lead in the fourth with a two-run single that highlighted a three-run frame.
"The fastball velocity was down, especially from even the last time when he struggled in Boston," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He struggled getting behind some guys and [made] mistakes. It turned into a tough night for him. We've got to circle the wagons with him and continue to work through it, because he's really important to us."
Miguel Andujar tied the game once more in the fourth with his second big league homer. Estrada lasted five innings, charged with five runs on seven hits, but Toronto pulled away against New York's bullpen to secure its ninth win in 11 games.
Domingo German permitted two runs in 1 2/3 innings, including another RBI knock for Gurriel and a bases-loaded free pass to Hernandez. Former Yankee Yangervis Solarte slugged a sixth-inning homer off Adam Warren to swell the Jays' lead to three runs.
"We've got a long season left," Stanton said. "We've got room to catch up."
Yankees pitchers issued nine walks on Friday, their most in a nine-inning game since Aug. 23, 2015, against the Indians. They had two pitchers (Gray and German) permit at least four walks for just the second time since the beginning of the 2002 season.
"I think anytime you walk that many guys and give up free passes, it's going to come back to bite you sooner or later," Gray said. "It caught up with me there in the fourth."
GRAY'S VELOCITY DIPS
As Boone said, Gray indeed had difficulty bringing the heat. His average four-seam fastball velocity was 91.4 mph, lower than any of his single-game averages since the beginning of 2017. In Gray's first three starts this season, his velocity registered 92.6 mph, 92.2 mph and 93.3 mph, respectively.
"I feel fine. It's 40 degrees outside," Gray said. "I don't think anybody is throwing as hard as they're going to in the middle of summer. I feel good."
Asked if he was alarmed by the dip, Boone said that he did not want to use that word yet.
"We're seeing a lot of 90, 91 with the fastball," Boone said. "It looked like he just couldn't reach back for much more. We'll look at it and evaluate it and work real hard now to continue to get him right."
Jordan Montgomery will look to string together consecutive victories on Saturday as he takes on the Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. ET. Montgomery picked up his first win on April 13 at Detroit, tossing a season-high six innings in a quality start. Marcus Stroman, who grew up in Medford, N.Y., will pitch for Toronto.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.