Missed opportunities haunt Yankees
BOSTON -- Play this game in any other ballpark, Didi Gregorius said, and the Yankees would be the ones celebrating. You didn't need a tape measure to figure out that his good wood, ninth-inning drive would have powered a grand slam back in the Bronx.
No lead seems safe at Fenway Park either, but the forgiving right-field dimensions helped the Red Sox this time. Gregorius' fly ball died on the warning track, allowing the erratic Jean Machi to close out a 4-3 victory on a night of missed opportunities for the Yankees.
"I think any other stadium other than this one, it probably would have went," Gregorius said. "I'm not a strong guy like all the other guys."
According to Statcast™, Gregorius' ball traveled 362.9 feet, but Rusney Castillo hit a top speed of 15.72 mph to race back and make the catch.
Gregorius pulled his weight plenty, stroking hits in his first four at-bats while the Yanks watched a scoreboard offering a prime chance to make up ground.
The Yankees were unable to capitalize on the Blue Jays' 4-2 loss to the Indians, sending Ivan Nova to his third straight defeat despite six innings of three-run ball. He lacked help from a lineup that finished 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position, leaving 14 men on base.
"It was just one of those nights where we didn't get the hit that we needed," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's unfortunate, because we had a lot of chances."
Girardi said that he could not second-guess sending Greg Bird home on Jacoby Ellsbury's fourth-inning drive to left field, which Jackie Bradley Jr. snagged and fired home to nail Bird for an inning-ending double play.
Bird was at the center of several developments on Monday, striking out looking in the fifth to leave the bases loaded and bobbling a seventh-inning Pablo Sandoval grounder, settling for a run-scoring groundout on what he believed should have been a double play.
"We didn't get the double play and that's the run that ends up costing us, but we had a lot of chances," Girardi said. "I don't look at it as Greg Bird cost us the game."
As Machi was wobbling in the ninth inning, Bird believed a moment of redemption was near. Machi walked Chase Headley to force home the Yankees' third run, bringing up Bird, but home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza rang up the rookie looking at a called third strike.
"Me and [Brett Gardner] were sitting there in the dugout, in the ninth inning, and he said, 'We're going to win this game,'" Bird said. "That's just a tough one. I want to be better there, I've got to be better there. At least get one in."
Gregorius ended the game with his drive that landed in Castillo's glove, a few steps shy of the wall. Gregorius said he was unaware of the Blue Jays' loss until a reporter told him, but regardless, he thought the Yanks' outcome should have been different.
"You always want to get the 'W,'" Gregorius said. "With guys in scoring position, we have to come through, but we fell short today. Nothing we can do about that, it's already the past, so keep moving forward."