NEW YORK — Aaron Sanchez took a sharp Brett Gardiner liner off his shin in the fifth inning here on Monday night and you could almost feel the pain.
Turns out that was just the beginning of the beating for the struggling Blue Jays starter.
Up until that point, Sanchez had cleverly been dodging danger, holding the AL East-leading Yankees to two hits and no runs through four innings.
And then just like that, the Jays were Bronx Bombed before they knew what hit them.
With three runs in that fifth and a converted touchdown the following inning, the Yanks cruised to a 10-8 win, no doubt dulling some of the good vibes from the Jays winning two of three over the Red Sox in Boston on the weekend.
After getting dinged and attempting to shake it off, Sanchez never returned to form. The struggling right-hander allowed a pair of singles and then a three-run homer to right off the bat of Aaron Hicks and it was implosion time.
Sanchez was on the hook for four more the following inning, but the biggest damage came from a Derek Law beach ball hung out to Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees slugger, just starting to flex since returning from the injury list last week, mashed his first homer of the season, bringing in two more Pinstripe teammates with him. The blast to deep centre eventually came down, measured at 445 feet.
While the night started with the promise of Sanchez possibly crafting his way to a deep innings start, once things started to unravel the desperate lack of Jays pitching depth was once again exposed.
As encouraged as the Jays were by their visit to Boston, Monday was yet another reality check for the young team.
Sanchez was clearly struggling the third time through the order and exited after 5.1 innings of work in which he allowed nine hits and three walks. He’s now dropped a career worst nine consecutive decisions.
The Jays have now surrendered 10 runs or more four times in their past 11 games. The loss comes after a stretch in which Toronto had won three of their previous four and dipped their record to 29-50 putting them a mere 21.5 games behind the AL East leading Yanks.
EIGHTH IS NOT ENOUGH
One of the things manager Charlie Montoyo appreciates about his team is that they never seem to pack it in. They gave him another example in their half of the eighth inning on Monday, a frame in which everything seemed to happen.
The Jays entered it trailing 10-2 and then the fun began before it ended with them being one swing away from tying it up.
Let’s start with a Freddy Galvis grand slam, just the second in his career and just the second ever for a Jay at Yankee Stadium (new or old.) The blast trimmed the Yankees lead to 10-7, thanks to a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homer which led off the inning. Gurriel came to the plate a second time with two men on and a chance to tie it, but struck out to end the rally.
And as rugged as the Jays pitchers have been, how about this for a dubious line from Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder: 0 innings, five batters, five hits, two home runs, five earned runs. Ugh.
The night actually started with a shred of positivity as Vlad Guerrero Jr. made his off-Broadway debut with an RBI double in the first, part of a two-run opening frame and one of the rookie third baseman’s three hits on the night.
* The only other Jays batter to hit a slam at Yankee Stadium was Justin Smoak, who did so back in August of 2015.
* Gurriel’s homer was his 10th of the season, all of those coming since he was recalled from triple A on May 24.
* The three-run Hicks blast extended the Yankees run of 27 consecutive games with a homer, equalling the MLB record.
WHAT THE ECK?
Given the chance, you know Marcus Stroman wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to weigh in on Red Sox broadcaster and former big-league pitcher, Dennis Eckersley.
If you missed it, Eck sounded personally put out when Stroman yelled and glared at the Boston dugout on Sunday after striking out Eduardo Nunez to end the sixth inning.
“I’m not mad. More shocked,” Stroman said. “I was honestly laughing at the entire thing. I was aware of how animated he was as a pitcher.
“If I was on the Red Sox, he’d probably be praising me.”
AROUND THE DIAMOND
Little in triple A seems to be able to slow down the Bo Bichette train, making you wonder how long it will be before the Jays prospect gets the call from Buffalo for his big-league debut.
In 10 games since returning to triple A following a broken bone in his hand, Bichette has batted .342. He added a pair of singles in his first three at-bats on Monday against Pawtucket and overall is batting .295 on the season.
* Among the celebrities at Yankee Stadium on Monday (new-found version, anyway) was Jack Hughes, the first overall selection by the New Jersey Devils in Friday’s NHL draft. Hughes, whose formative teen years were spent in Toronto, was sporting a Yankees cap when showed on the big screen alongside actor/comedian, Adam Sandler.