The Yankees can rest easy every fifth day, knowing that they’ll hand the baseball to one of the world’s best pitchers in Gerrit Cole. Now they must determine how to navigate the rest of the calendar.
“The good thing about this group is that we’re all pretty self-aware,” Taillon said. “We know what we need to get better at. I think the adjustments will be made, but right now we’re not getting deep enough into games. We’re not getting it done. We need to start picking it up, and I think we will.”
Cole is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA through three starts, but the rest of the Yanks’ rotation has combined to go 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA in the other eight contests. Tuesday marked the first rough outing for Taillon, who permitted eight hits and endured a 34-pitch second inning after setting down Toronto on eight pitches in the first inning.
Josh Palacios opened the scoring with a two-run single in the second inning off Taillon. Randal Grichuk lifted a sacrifice fly in the third, an inning set up when first baseman Jay Bruce was unable to scoop a throw from shortstop Gio Urshela.
“There were a lot of two-strike situations where [Taillon] wasn’t able to finish guys off,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought his stuff ticked up and I thought his fastball up was really playing, but some two-strike walks … it seemed like a lot of the damage was done with two strikes.”
Marcus Semien hit a fourth-inning homer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled home a run to chase Taillon, who threw 59 of 84 pitches for strikes. While Jordan Montgomery (3.27 ERA) has been solid in two starts, Domingo Germán (9.00 ERA), Corey Kluber (5.68 ERA) and Taillon (7.56 ERA) have taxed the bullpen.
“They’ve had to pick up some innings for starters not named Gerrit a few times,” Taillon said. “As starters, if our bullpen is going to pitch really well not just now but throughout the entire year, we need to optimize the way they’re being used instead of forcing them to run out there early in games.”
The Yankees were stymied by Hyun Jin Ryu, who faced the minimum through five frames, helped by a generous strike zone from home plate umpire Erich Bacchus. Ryu held New York to four hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.
“I feel like our mistakes right now are pretty glaring in some of our losses, but that’s baseball,” DJ LeMahieu said. “Just like me at the plate, I know our team is going to start clicking here real soon. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I know we’re real close.”
The Blue Jays have won each of Ryu’s four starts against the Yankees since he signed a four-year, $80 million deal before last season. Rowdy Tellez extended Toronto’s lead with a fifth-inning home run off left-hander Lucas Luetge.
Caught in the middle
The Yankees rallied in the eighth inning, sparked by Clint Frazier’s liner that struck David Phelps in the back, chasing the right-hander.
LeMahieu roped a one-out double and Giancarlo Stanton snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a two-run single, measured at 120.0 mph -- Stanton’s ninth batted ball of 120 mph or more since Statcast’s 2015 inception.
Gary Sánchez worked a two-out walk that brought Aaron Hicks to the plate as the potential tying run, but Hicks never completed that at-bat.
Julian Merryweather bounced a 1-0 changeup that kicked away from catcher Danny Jansen, who recovered the ball and fired to first base, where Sánchez was caught in a rundown to end the inning.
“I wanted to come up big right there in that situation for my team,” said Hicks, who went 3-for-4 in his return to the lineup after receiving permission to sit out Monday following a police-involved shooting in Minnesota. “I wasn’t able to get that opportunity.”
Boone said that Sánchez froze after seeing Stanton briefly hesitate on his way to third base.
“Any time you make a mistake when you’re climbing back into the game, it’s always frustrating,” Boone said. “We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”