TORONTO — Adam Ottavino could only put both hands on his head in disbelief as he helplessly watched the baseball stay just inside the first-base bag, then roll for what seemed like forever down the rightfield line.
He hadn't thrown a bad two-strike pitch to Vlad Guerrero Jr. with two on and one out in the seventh inning — far from it — and the resulting contact didn’t come close to approaching that of the 118-mph missile the rookie slugger had lined high off the leftfield wall for a fifth-inning single. In fact, all Guerrero came up with this time was a ground ball that actually started off foul before veering fair.
But the result of his inside-out swing on a high 0-and-2 fastball that he had to reach for was the only thing that mattered: a two-run triple that gave the Blue Jays a 5-4 victory over the Yankees in front of 33,903 at Rogers Centre.
“I think it was a good pitch,” Gary Sanchez said through his translator. “Defensive swing by him and he was able to put the ball in play and it stayed inside the line. It’s part of the game. Sometimes those things are going to happen where the ball is not hit solid but still finds a hole.”
Entering the game, Ottavino (5-4, 1.73) hadn't allowed a run in 28 games against AL East opponents this season, but he walked Bo Bichette with one out and allowed a single by Cavan Biggio. Guerrero's first career triple then drove in the other two rookies the Blue Jays (49-71) hope will make them contenders by 2021, and Toronto had a 5-4 lead.
“The mistake was the walk, obviously,” Ottavino said. “It is what it is. No excuse. I have to get it done and I didn’t tonight.”
Speaking specifically of the Guerrero hit, Ottavino shrugged.
“It happened really quick,” he said. “By the time I looked up, I saw that the ball was in that area, I saw him [umpire Manny Gonzalez] call it fair. Was kind of in a little bit of disbelief.”
The Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez hit a three-run homer off Chance Adams in the fourth, giving him three homers and six RBIs in the series, but the Yankees (76-41) rallied to take a 4-3 lead on Gio Urshela's tying two-run homer in the sixth and DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.
After Tommy Kahnle, who allowed one of Hernandez’s two homers Friday, struck out the side in a dominant 14-pitch sixth, Ottavino came on to protect the 4-3 lead in the seventh. It didn't happen.
“Just kind of a defensive [swing],” Aaron Boone said of Guerrero's hit. “It’s just one of those balls that finds a hole. Obviously, that was the difference in the game, but I thought overall he threw the ball fine.”
Derek Law, who struck out Cameron Maybin to end the eighth, walked Mike Tauchman with one out in the ninth, but LeMahieu grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Yankees, who had won nine straight games before losing to Toronto on Friday night, fell to 11-1 when using an opener (Chad Green pitched the first inning). They struck out 14 but allowed eight walks, two of which came around to score.
The 1-0 lead Sanchez provided with his 25th home run in the fourth inning disappeared in the bottom half when Adams gave up a three-run shot by Hernandez, his 18th homer.
Aaron Judge led off the sixth with a single against Jake Waguespack and two outs later, Urshela hit a drive over the left-centerfield wall for his 17th homer, tying it at 3-3. It gave him six homers and 12 RBIs in his last five games and gave the Yankees nine straight games with multiple homers, tying the franchise record set in May 2009. They have 29 in that stretch.
In the seventh, Mike Ford drew a one-out walk against lefthander Tim Mayza and Tauchman lined a double to center, improving him to 23 for his last 56. In came righty Jason Adam, and LeMahieu lifted a sacrifice fly to deep right that gave him a team-best 80 RBIs.
Five Toronto pitchers limited the Yankees to five hits, matching the Blue Jays' total.
“Still able to push four [runs] across there when we didn’t get a ton of hits,” Boone said. “But credit to them. They mixed and matched and held us down enough today.”