The Toronto Blue Jays entered this series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees largely unable to contain anyone, watching countless leads slip away against both the Red Sox and Rays this past week.
Predictably, that changed the moment they set foot inside Yankee Stadium to face a Bombers team on a six-game winning streak, but still perilously without the ability to hit a baseball.
You know what happened next — even if you didn’t watch the first two games of the series.
After an off day, the Yankees didn’t hit Steven Matz while Toronto tattooed Corey Kluber. Turned out Kluber was hurt, and he’ll be on the shelf for several months. Ditto Luke Voit, whose injury was slipped into Aaron Boone’s rainy day press conference Wednesday like an eviction notice.
On Thursday in Game 1 of the two teams’ doubleheader, a pitcher making his MLB debut — with three starts to his name above Single-A — tortured the Yankees, and they humbly took three seats an inning until the game was over.
Once again, an AL East foe has waltzed into a “hostile” stadium and left the Yankee bats looking unprepared for a punch levied by a real contender. The Jays didn’t look the part of the Rays in this past weekend’s series, but they certainly succeeded at Tampa’s favorite game this week: easily dispatching of the Yankee offense on their home turf.
The Yankees looked a level below their AL East foes the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Impressed by” or “extremely resigned to”?
Without Voit or Giancarlo Stanton, this looked a lot like the sloppy Yankees that saw baseballs thrown at them from the stands in an April melee against the Rays. The familiar fecklessness was back in droves.
You’re not going to win every series, and especially in the wake of the Voit/Kluber double-barreled injury news, things might look a bit wonky. Of course, the guaranteed backslide came at the worst possible time for the Yankees, set to face a gauntlet of the Jays, Rays and Red Sox at home these next few weeks.
Maybe the whole team should stay in a hotel and pretend they’re on the road?
Full strength or not, the Yankees have scored the following totals in 2021 home games against Toronto and Tampa Bay: 2, 5, 1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 0, to the tune of a 1-7 record. Typically, these awful games have neither come down to the wire nor captured our attention, as divisional showdowns are supposed to. They’ve come against pitchers of all shapes and sizes, from Manoah to Ryan Yarbrough.
And until the Yankees can figure out how to put pressure on the teams that are supposed to be chasing them, but continue to turn the Bombers into fourth-place mimickers instead, they won’t have turned any sort of corner.
Not even close.