TORONTO -- J.A. Happ winced when a reviewed play at third base went in the home team’s favor, and DJ LeMahieu showed a pained expression when he lost a foul popup in the twilight. Then Danny Jansen really hurt the Yankees, belting a three-run homer that helped propel the Blue Jays to an 8-2 victory on Friday at Rogers Centre.
Jansen’s fourth-inning blast was the third of the evening off Happ, as Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez also slugged long balls to snap the Yankees’ winning streak at nine games. A force down the stretch last year, Happ’s first full season with the Bombers has been marked by his inconsistency; the left-hander has pitched to a 6.89 ERA over his last 10 starts.
“Right now it seems like if it can go wrong, it will,” Happ said. “It's frustrating. I'm certainly not feeling sorry for myself, I've got to find a way out of it. I felt like I made a pitch to get out of that fourth, and it didn't happen. Then I didn't make a pitch, and we got hurt there. Every out is huge, and I just wasn't able to close it down.”
Happ was attempting to pin the Blue Jays’ advantage at two runs in that frame, believing that the inning was over when catcher Austin Romine pounced on a pitch that bounced, pegging a strong throw to third baseman Gio Urshela. Toronto's Brandon Drury was initially called out, but review overturned the call, as Drury had avoided Urshela’s tag with a nifty swim move.
After walking Derek Fisher, Happ again thought he had escaped when Jansen lifted a ball toward the first-base side, but the normally surehanded LeMahieu was unable to track its path.
"999 times out of 1,000, we're out of there, but it happened to not be," Happ said. "It's on me to execute and find a way to get out of that inning. I've got to follow that up with another good pitch, and I didn't do that."
Jansen parked Happ’s 2-2 offering into the seats in left-center for his 10th homer, building a Toronto advantage that held up for winning pitcher Sean Reid-Foley and four relievers.
"Again, it's just not having that margin for error," manager Aaron Boone said. "I thought [Happ] competed well. I thought his stuff was OK. The mistakes that turned into home runs really hurt him."
The contest included fireworks of another brand in the top of the fourth, when Brett Gardner was ejected by home-plate umpire Chris Segal. The dugout had chirped on a third strike to Cameron Maybin, as well as a called strike on Mike Tauchman, and Segal appeared to believe that Gardner was the guilty party. Replays showed that Gardner had not said a word.
"It’s all on video," Gardner said. "A couple of minutes prior, I was hitting my bat on the top of the dugout. The last time I checked, that wasn’t against the rules. It's just super frustrating. Just when you think you’ve seen it all."
After the Gardner ejection, Tauchman broke up the shutout bid with a solo blast off Reid-Foley, who held New York to a run and five hits over five innings. It was Tauchman’s fifth homer in as many games, and his 12th of the season.
Since the Yankees were unable to add a starting pitcher at the Trade Deadline and there are no guarantees regarding Luis Severino's envisioned return to the active roster, getting Happ on track has to be a top priority for pitching coach Larry Rothschild over the final weeks of the season.
Happ was 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the Blue Jays last July, and the Yankees would love to unlock that version of the veteran.
"I feel healthy. I feel like my stuff is the same," Happ said. "I feel like I've been a pitcher who has had success. I feel like I can still do that. I'm getting bit right now with everything, it feels like, so I've just got to find a way to dig out of there and get out of those innings in big situations."