The audition went pretty well. The final result was not quite as good for Marcus Stroman. It can go that way when you pitch against these Yankees.
The Toronto righthander — a Long Islander and a potential trade target for the Yankees — looked very good through six solid innings but took the loss as the Yanks beat the Blue Jays, 4-2, before 42,303 on Sunday at the Stadium.
Stroman (5-10, 3.25) surrendered three runs, seven hits and two walks and tied his season high with seven strikeouts, but Masahiro Tanaka (6-5, 3.81) was a shade better. The righthander allowed two runs, four hits and no walks in six innings, striking out five. He allowed a pair of solo homers but needed only 79 pitches to record 18 outs.
Gio Urshela had two hits and two RBIs and scored the go-ahead run with a deft slide home after a wild pitch in the fifth inning. Mike Tauchman ended the Yankees’ 30-inning homer drought with a solo shot in the seventh. Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman combined to allow no runs, two singles and a walk in three innings, with Chapman earning his 25th save.
The AL East-leading Yankees maintained their six-game edge over the Rays as the teams open a four-game series Monday night at the Stadium.
The backdrop for the Yankees coming out of the All-Star break was their very public quest for a high-profile arm to upgrade the starting rotation. Stroman, the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and the Mets’ Zack Wheeler are some of the better starters expected to be traded. The current Yankees rotation, however, has made a bit of a statement with this first series: Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Domingo German combined to allow four runs in 17 1⁄3 innings.
Manager Aaron Boone called his rotation “underrated all year and a little underappreciated.”
“By and large, you’re not sitting at this point in the season with as many wins as we have if you aren’t getting quality starts,” he added. “And it hasn’t necessarily always been deep into games, but for the most part, our starting pitchers have given us a chance to win every single day. And I feel like that sometimes gets glossed over a little bit, but those guys are very capable. And right now they’re healthy and throwing the ball really well.”
“I tell you what, the pitching we faced these three days, it’s pretty good,” Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Tanaka, of course, is very good. Happ is good. And German was really good. I don’t know what to tell you about what they’re thinking, but what we saw these three days is good pitching.”
Former Patchogue-Medford star Stroman didn’t face the Yankees the last time the teams met but was asked about playing in New York and replied, “I’m built for the bright lights and the moment.” Subsequently, every eye was on him, and he performed as anticipated: Delivering ground-ball outs and strikeouts.
Those ground balls sometimes find holes, though, and Urshela gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a grounder through the left side. Luke Voit singled and Gleyber Torres doubled with none out to set up the two-run single.
In the fifth, Randal Grichuk homered off the Toyota sign in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen and Eric Sogard tied it with a drive into the rightfield stands.
The Yankees took the lead right back in the bottom of the inning and simultaneously glimpsed Stroman’s emotional side — which often helps him but sometimes undoes him.
With two on and one out, DJ LeMahieu hit a grounder to second that should have resulted in an inning-ending double play, but the Jays didn’t turn it. Stroman clearly was irked.
With Aaron Judge at the plate, Stroman uncorked a wild pitch. As Urshela dashed to the plate, the ball caromed off the backstop back to catcher Danny Jansen. He had the time and space to get Urshela, but he went for Urshela’s body and applied a high tag as the runner’s foot extended across the plate. Plate umpire Ryan Blakney called Urshela out, but the Yankees challenged it, the call was overturned and Urshela happily high-fived his teammates in the dugout after giving his team a 3-2 lead.
Stroman seemed to fume during the replay but ultimately regained his composure. He recorded all three outs in the sixth on strikeouts.
“I had plenty of time,” Jansen said. “I should have just thrown my body right on the plate like I’m supposed to do. He made a nice slide.”
With David Lennon