Yankees’ Hopes for an Early Clinching Go Down in a Hail of Homers

With one out in the third inning, Frazier was on second base after a double. Jacoby Ellsbury lined a ball into right field, and Bautista made one of three fine plays in the game — a leaping grab of the ball over his head. As Frazier scrambled back to the bag, Bautista threw the ball back in to Goins, the second baseman.


Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka walking off the mound after giving up an unearned run in the first inning.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Goins pretended to casually throw back to Estrada, but actually placed the ball in his glove as Frazier stood on the base, looking toward the outfield.

When Frazier stepped of the base by just inches, Goins tagged him for the final out. Frazier blamed his lack of concentration for the play.

“I thought the ball was thrown in, and it was one of those things,” he said. “Nothing you can do about it afterward.”

Castro also took the blame for his mistake — failing to catch Frazier’s throw in the first inning with a runner coming into second base. Castro said he had rushed to turn the double play, and missed the ball. The runner, Teoscar Hernandez, ended up at third and scored on a groundout by Bautista.

Perhaps both of those mistakes could have been overcome if Tanaka had pitched better. But he gave up a bases-empty homer to Hernandez in the third and a two-run shot by the former Yankee Russell Martin in the fourth, and the Blue Jays led, 4-1.

Then in the sixth, Tanaka walked Bautista as the leadoff batter, just as he had done before Martin’s homer in the fourth. Kevin Pillar singled, but Tanaka struck out Martin and Miguel Montero, hinting that he still had the stuff to get safely out of the inning.


The Yankees’ Aaron Judge (99) and Didi Gregorius celebrated Judge’s home run in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports, via Reuters..

But he walked pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales (he said he was not pitching around him to face Goins) to load the bases. Goins was 0 for 20 against Tanaka coming into the game and had made two outs already, which is why Girardi left Tanaka in to face him. But this time was different.

Goins rocketed a high slider over Judge’s head and into the seats beyond right field for his eighth homer of the season. The only other grand slam of his career came in May.

Tanaka has had a difficult season, and the Yankees have been unable to determine the reason. Tanaka said that it was a mechanical problem and that he would have to analyze videotape of Friday’s outing to determine what flaw had doomed him. Girardi attributed Tanaka’s troubles to inconsistency throughout the season with his split-fingered fastball and his slider.

Tanaka is 12-12, and his E.R.A. is 4.94. He has surrendered seven earned runs in two of his last three starts, and should the Yankees make it to the divisional round of the playoffs, his spot in the rotation could be in doubt.

“You look at everything,” Girardi said. “But I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We still haven’t clinched anything. We need to win games, and we need to play well. And tonight we didn’t.”

The Yankees will have more shots to clinch a playoff berth, but their chances to win the American League East grew smaller as the Red Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, increasing their lead over the Yankees to four games with nine to play.

“We are still looking to win the division,” Frazier said. “We know we have a really good shot at making the playoffs, of course, but we still have an opportunity to win the division, so I think our mind-set is on that.”

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