Nathan Eovaldi pitches 6.2 innings but the Blue Jays get to him late as Troy Tulowtizki rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the seventh.
TORONTO – A dominant ace, timely home runs and another Blue Jays win. Sound familiar?
Toronto used that combination to rule the American League East for the final two months last season, cruising past the Yankees en route to a division title.
They used the same formula Thursday night as Josh Donaldson hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in support of Marcus Stroman, lifting the Blue Jays to a 4-2 comeback win in the rubber match at Rogers Centre.
“That was a frustrating game in particular,” said Alex Rodriguez, whose hitless streak now stands at 14 at-bats. “We thought we had control of it. We get a couple of extra hits here, maybe we have Stroman on the ropes a little bit. It felt like we let one get away today.”
A two-run fourth inning gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead against Stroman, but they stranded a pair of runners in scoring position as the rally ended, scoring their only runs on a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch.
“That was really the only good chance that we had to get some runs,” Joe Girardi said. “We had the bases loaded with one out and ended up with two runs. He didn’t give us many opportunities.”
Stroman was masterful after that, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced including the last 11 in a row. He needed only 21 pitches to get through his final three innings, allowing only three hits and two walks over eight innings.
The Yankees didn’t have a hit after the fourth and didn’t put a man on base after Jacoby Ellsbury drew a one-out walk in the fifth.
“He’s got really good stuff,” Brett Gardner said. “He does a good job for the most part of staying out of the middle of the plate and keeping guys off balance.”
Josh Donaldson delivers the big blow, blasting a mammoth three-run home run to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead.
Roberto Osuna finished the Yankees off with a perfect ninth, dropping the Bombers to the .500 mark and lifting the Blue Jays to the same.
It was the first series loss of the season for the Yankees, who watched a seven-game lead in the AL East fizzle last season, ultimately finishing six games behind the first-place Blue Jays.
Prior to the series, Girardi said this would be a good measuring stick for the Yankees. How did the manager feel they measured up against the defending division champs?
“We had a chance to win every game,” Girardi said.
Nathan Eovaldi delivered a better performance than his five-inning, five-run effort against the Astros a week ago, becoming the first Yankees starter to record an out in the seventh inning this season.
But the Blue Jays proved to be too much for him in the end as Donaldson’s three-run blast erased a two-run Yankees lead and a solo blast by Troy Tulowitzki provided an insurance run.
Eovaldi was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out eight over 6.2 innings.
The Yankees scored twice in the fourth for the game’s first runs, but Eovaldi nearly gave them right back in the bottom of the fourth, getting out of a jam to strand runners at second and third.
Marcus Stroman tosses eight innings, retiring the final 11 Yankees he faces en route to a 4-2 Blue Jays win.
He wasn’t so fortunate in the fifth.
A one-out walk to Russell Martin got the rally started. Kevin Pillar doubled down the third-base line, bringing the reigning American League MVP to the plate.
Donaldson took ball one, then unleashed a ferocious swing on an Eovaldi splitter, driving it into the second deck in straightaway center field.
“It’s frustrating,” Eovaldi said “As well as I had thrown the ball tonight, I left that split up.”
The three-run blast – Donaldson’s fifth of the year – put the Blue Jays ahead by a run, handing Stroman his first lead of the night.
“That’s why you call him the MVP, I guess,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Having gone 2-3 on the five-game road trip (the finale in Detroit was rained out), the Yankees head back to the Bronx to open a nine-game home stand Friday night against Robinson Cano and the Mariners.