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Yankees blow late lead, allow three home runs in eighth in loss to Blue Jays

New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton walks off

New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton walks off the mound after giving up a three-run home run to Toronto Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr., left, during the eighth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Toronto. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP) Photo Credit: AP/Fred Thornhill

TORONTO — Give a big-league ballclub, even one as terrible as the Blue Jays, enough chances and they’ll beat you.

The Yankees performed odorously in the field and at times on the mound Wednesday night and eventually stumbled into an 11-7 loss to the Blue Jays in front of 16,609 at Rogers Centre.

The game instantly became the clubhouse leader for worst loss of the season, which dropped the Yankees to 38-22 and guaranteed a series loss to the Blue Jays (23-38), who had not won a series since the April 26-28 vs. Oakland. The Yankees, who have lost three straight, had won nine straight series.

“We obviously didn’t play our best,” said Aaron Boone, whose team committed three errors and allowed four home runs, three in the eighth inning. “Gave them a couple of extra outs there. So that’s frustrating.” 

Touted rookie Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s three-run homer off Zack Britton, a laser to center on a 1-and-1 sinker, with one out in the eighth propelled Toronto to a 9-7 lead. Britton allowed a one-out single to Danny Jansen, the No. 9 hitter, and walked Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before Guerrero’s seventh homer in 33 games since his call-up sunk the Yankees.

“Frustrated,” Britton said. “That’s a game we should win . . . he’s a good young hitter but if I make a good pitch I can get him out. I wanted it down and away, I kind of cut it middle in. Watching the video of pitches where he does damage, it’s that spot. He didn’t miss it.”

Randal Grichuk, whose two-run homer in the first off James Paxton got Toronto on the board, homered off Luis Cessa, who replaced Britton, later in the eighth to make it 10-7 and gave the rightfielder three homers in the series. Former Yankee Brandon Drury added another to make it 11-7.

Britton entered with a runner at third and two outs in the seventh in relief of Jonathan Holder — who was victimized in the inning by errors by Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela that contributed to two runs that pulled Toronto within 7-6 — and got rookie Cavan Biggio to ground out to end the inning.

Torres started the seventh by throwing away a Guerrero grounder and Holder, with one out, hit Grichuk. Teoscar Hernandez stroked an RBI double that scored two and Urshela committed an error on a rundown that allowed the runner to reach third.

Luke Voit failed to handle Torres’ one-hop throw in the seventh and also couldn’t handle a one-hopper by Gio Urshela, after a terrific stop, on a Guerrero ground smash in the fifth that allowed Gurriel to score from first.

“Just took a weird hop,” Voit said of the Urshela throw. “Just this turf is funky. Same thing on Gleyber’s, just hopped up. But that’s no excuse I still have to try and pick those guys up. It’s unfortunate. It’s different, I’ve never played here before, it’s something I’m not used to, but then again I have to make the plays.”

Paxton, meanwhile, took the drama out early of one particular story line.

There would not be back-to-back no-hitters for him in this building.

That went kaput when the lefthander, who threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays the last time he had taken the Rogers Centre mound — May 8, 2018 while with the Mariners — allowed the first-inning homer to Grichuk.  

Paxton, making his second start since coming off the injured list, allowed four runs (three earned) and four hits over 4 2/3 innings.

“Didn’t execute very well the first few innings of the game,” Paxton said. “Just wasn’t very sharp altogether tonight.”

For a long while, it appeared as if DJ LeMahieu, one night after committing a rare base-running blunder, would be the hero. He improved to a sizzling 24-for-51 this season with runners in scoring position, his second of those, a three-run homer in the sixth, put the Yankees ahead 7-4. The way the bullpen has performed this season, the prevailing feeling at that point in the dugout was an inevitable victory. Until it wasn’t.

“It’s part of the game,” Boone said. “Even with the best of 'pens, it’s going to happen. Every now and then you’re going to have the blip. Tip your cap. They got us tonight.” 

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