Thursday night's game might've meant far more to the Blue Jays than the already eliminated Yankees, in theory. But that platitude didn't account for right-hander Yoendrys Gómez, who strode in from the bullpen in the seventh inning, down 6-0, and soaked in the moment.
Playoff intensity? You might not have found it at Yankee Stadium the past few weeks, but it was certainly present north of the border Thursday, as the Jays looked to lock up the No. 5 seed in the American League in the days to come.
That made it a perfect opportunity for Gómez, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 and worked his way all the way back, to debut in a buzzing environment, working through a bit of a personal energy overload in the process. He delivered.
His first career strikeout was potential Yankees target Kevin Kiermaier to cap off a 1-2-3 frame in his first inning of work. His second, third and fourth career strikeouts all followed the very next inning.
Yankees top prospect Yoendrys Gómez dominated Toronto Blue Jays in MLB debut
After the Kiermaier whiff, Gómez's teammates proved they were up to the moment, too, greeting him in the dugout with a long-awaited hi-fives-and-hugs line.
Austin Wells got him first. Earlier this season, he helped shepherd Gómez through his return to action in Double-A Somerset. Thursday, he got to welcome his fellow rook into the playoff chase, albeit someone else's.
It's a shame to see the Yankees be loose and injury-depleted enough to be able to turn to so many kids, but in exchange, the kids have already given the roster and fan base a much-needed attitude adjustment.
Oh, and did we mention Gómez blew a fastball by Yankees antagonist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in his house to escape a self-created jam in the eighth?
The Yankees may not have captured a win on Thursday, grabbing only two out of three crucial contests in Toronto. Gómez certainly did, though, getting his feet wet and relying on Wells to catch him when he fell.