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Yanks stumble late, can't contain Vlad Jr., Jays

New York's run of nine straight series wins comes to an end
@BryanHoch
June 6, 2019

TORONTO -- The Yankees were in San Francisco on the day that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his Major League debut, and several of the players clustered around a clubhouse television that afternoon, witnessing his first at-bats from a distance of some 2,300 miles. Zack Britton surely would have preferred that

TORONTO -- The Yankees were in San Francisco on the day that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his Major League debut, and several of the players clustered around a clubhouse television that afternoon, witnessing his first at-bats from a distance of some 2,300 miles. Zack Britton surely would have preferred that vantage point on Wednesday evening.

Britton missed his spot with a pitch that Guerrero launched for a go-ahead three-run homer, and the bullpen allowed a season-high seven runs (five earned). Randal Grichuk and Brandon Drury also mashed back-to-back homers off Luis Cessa as the Blue Jays rallied for an 11-7 victory at Rogers Centre, snapping the Yankees’ string of nine consecutive series wins.

"I'm frustrated. It's a game we should win," Britton said. "I think if I execute the pitches the way I have been, we win that game. He's a good young hitter, but if I make a good pitch, I can get him out."

Box score

The Yankees' defense let them down in a three-error performance that tied their season high, beginning with Gio Urshela's fifth-inning throw that eluded first baseman Luke Voit and led to a run. In the seventh, Gleyber Torres threw a ball away and Urshela was hobbled as he was charged with another error for dropping a throw on Teoscar Hernandez's two-run double.

"We obviously didn't play our best and gave them a couple of extra outs there," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Any loss, especially when you fight back to grab the lead, that's difficult. We'll turn the page and try to salvage one [Thursday]."

After DJ LeMahieu's tiebreaking sixth-inning homer off Derek Law put New York ahead by three runs, Boone called upon Jonathan Holder for the seventh inning. Holder was the third reliever to take the mound, following Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle, who were needed for a combined four outs because starter James Paxton appeared to fatigue late in his 4 2/3-inning effort.

"I think it was one of those days where I didn't quite have the bite on my breaking stuff," said Paxton, who made his first start at Rogers Centre since his May 8, 2018, no-hitter on the same mound while with Seattle. "I wasn't locating my fastball very well. We kind of changed the game plan after that and I threw more offspeed."

Holder permitted a pair of runs while recording only two outs, watching as Hernandez laced his hit into the right-field corner and Voit threw behind the runner to second base. Hernandez bolted for third base and slid in safely as Urshela could not handle the relay throw, with Hernandez spiking Urshela's left foot in the process.

Britton recorded the last out of the seventh and the first of the eighth, but the trouble began when he surrendered a two-strike single to light-hitting catcher Danny Jansen. Britton got ahead of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with a 1-2 count but walked him. Guerrero gave Toronto the lead with his seventh big league homer, coming on a low-and-inside sinker.

"I looked back at it," Britton said. "It was down, but it's down where he swings. To say it was a good pitch in that situation to that hitter, probably not. But the way I got there, the walk, I'm ahead in the count with the base hit, didn't make a good pitch. The first two guys, if I execute some pitches, then we don't get to that situation."

Down three runs early, New York fought back, but a second rally was not in the cards. Gary Sánchez lined a fourth-inning homer for his 19th blast, grabbing the American League lead and surpassing his 2018 season total, while LeMahieu, Cameron Maybin and Sanchez collected RBI hits in a three-run fifth.

Voit said that he viewed the forgettable bullpen display as a one-off for what has otherwise been a reliable crew.

"They've been unbelievable this year," Voit said. "Any time we bring any of those guys in, whether it's Tommy, Zack, Chad [Green], whoever -- they're always going to get the job done. It happens and you're going to make mistakes. This is the big leagues and these are big league hitters. You can make a good pitch and those guys are going to hit it."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.