Sonny Gray allowed at least four runs for the fourth time in five starts Friday in Toronto, as he could barely make it through two innings allowing five runs.
The bulk of the scoring came early for the Blue Jays, as they scored five in the second and one in the eighth. Randal Grichuk led off with a double, then moved to third on an Aledmys Díaz ground out. Devon Travis then singled on a 2-0 pitch to score Díaz, then moved to second on a wild pitch during the following at-bat. With a runner now in scoring position, Curtis Granderson singled to right to score Travis. Gray struck out Teoscar Hernández, but allowed a single to Yangervis Solarte.
That set the stage for the big blow of the evening: Justin Smoak‘s three-run home run. Gray left an 86 mph slider over the middle of the plate and Smoak turned it around for a 106 mph exit velocity shot that landed 404 feet from home plate. Gray got out of the inning but would be replaced by David Hale.
Hale, who was selected again by the team July 1 after being designated for assignment multiple times, delivered much needed length out of the Yankees bullpen. He ended up pitching 5⅔ innings as he scattered five hits and allowed one earned run on a double by Hernández.
The Yankees offense can be summed up in one player: Aaron Hicks. The center fielder hit a career-high homer in the third inning, as No. 16 gave the Yankees a glimmer of hope as it cut a 5-to-0 deficit to 5-to-1. The best chance the Yankees got came when they score their second run in the fifth inning. Austin Romine singled, Brett Gardner singled and Aaron Judge reached on an error by Solarte to load the bases. Hicks then walked with the bases loaded to make it 5-to-2. Reliever Joe Biagini then ran the count to 3-0 on Giancarlo Stanton, who promptly chased two pitches out of the zone to make it 3-2. Stanton then took strike three over the outside corner for the second out. Didi Gregorius lined out to left to end the threat.
All in all, the Yankees offense went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. It was a rather pathetic showing alongside a great night for Hicks.
Aaron Boone said postgame that Gray will make his next scheduled start against Baltimore on Wednesday. I would think the only way he saved himself for another start is the good fortune to have it land against the last-place O’s. When the team’s long-man is able to throw a quality start out of the bullpen, it’s concerning. Boone voiced some confidence in Gray, though he mentioned the Yankees “feel like he’s our best option” and that’s just not true.
Luis Severino looks to continue a string of four straight wins, during which time he as a 0.99 ERA. He’ll be facing off against J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays pitcher who Jon Heyman of FanCred remarked is a main trade target of the Yankees’.