The headline on one of the stories on the Blue Jays website on Thursday read: ‘Jackson looks to help sweep Yanks.’
At the end of the day, it could have been changed to: ‘Yanks sweep floor with Jackson.’
The Jays acquired veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson on May 11, and the 35-year-old has been embarrassingly ineffective since joining his record 14th major league team. The start Thursday was his latest mess. Jackson lasted 3.1 innings before being pulled for Thomas Pannone after giving up six runs on six hits, including home runs by Aaron Hicks and Gio Urshela, while walking two and striking out three. Only two of the runs were earned as Jackson certainly didn’t get help from his third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Still, it’s time to pull the cord on this experiment, or whatever the Jays call it. Trotting Jackson out every fifth day isn’t doing anyone any good (except for the opposition).
Surely the Jays can find someone else who is a little more, you know, competitive.
In the end, the Yanks prevented the sweep, spanking the Jays 6-2, behind a solid start by former Toronto favorite J.A. Happ, who pitched seven innings, giving up one run on four hits and striking out four. His one mistake was giving up a line-drive home run to Jays second baseman Eric Sogard to lead off the sixth inning. It was Sogard’s fifth homer of the season.
Most of New York’s damage came with two out in the second when Yankees shortstop Thairo Estrada hit a routine grounder to Guerrero and the rookie threw the ball wildly to first and hit Estrada on his helmet. It was Guerrero’s fifth error of the season, an error that cost the Jays big time.
The next batter, Cameron Maybin, hit a single to left and Estrada moved to third. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu then hit a double off the wall in centre to score Estrada. With two runners on, Hicks then slammed a home run to right and the Yanks jumped ahead 4-0.
Jackson is now 0-4 with an 11.90 ERA in five starts for Toronto. He has allowed an astonishing 29 runs over his last four starts.
“I think the most frustrating part is, you feel like you’re so close to getting over the hump and you can’t get over it,” said Jackson, who said he has been dealing with some “mechanical flaws.”
“The story’s been too repetitive,” he said. “I’ve had numerous, numerous opportunities to come out and get the job done and I’m not finding a way to make pitches in big situations when I have a chance. I flat-out haven’t been able to get it done.”
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said he will have discussions with pitching coach Pete Walker and GM Ross Atkins when asked if he would start Jackson again.
The Jays scored one run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Justin Smoak led off the inning with a single that blooped between left and third, and Randal Grichuk then hit a single up the middle.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. loaded the bases with a single up the middle, chasing Chad Green out of the game.
Yanks manager Aaron Boone brought in closer Aroldis Chapman to face Teoscar Hernandez, who hit into a double play, and Smoak scored. The game ended with Freddy Galvis lining out to third.
THE GREAT OUTFIELD EXPERIMENT
Hernandez started in centre field for the second game in a row, a position he played frequently when he was younger and at winter ball. Besides wanting to give him a long look at the position, Montoyo said an advantage of having Hernandez at centre is it allows Grichuk to play right.
“It also helps because (Grichuk’s) an above-average right fielder but now if he goes to centre, he’s an average (centre fielder). Which is not bad, but if you keep him in right, that’s better for Grichuk also,” said Montoyo.
The thought was Grichuk would be the club’s every day centre fielder when Kevin Pillar was traded to San Francisco. Montoyo said Grichuk has been a good soldier in terms of not making a fuss about where he is playing in the outfield.
“(But) he likes to play centre,” said the manager. “He just wants to play. He wants to be in the lineup, but he doesn’t mind centre or right.”
Montoyo said he may even try converted infielder Gurriel in centre.
“I think he could (play centre) but for now just let him be the best left fielder he can be,” said Montoyo. “But I think he could. It could happen this year.”
GILES HAVING AN ALL-STAR SEASON
MLB.com writer Jesse Sanchez makes a compelling case for Jays closer Ken Giles to be named to the American League all-star team this season, pointing out that he has largely been overlooked because he hasn’t had a lot of save opportunities. But Giles’ numbers are outstanding.
Over 25 innings, the 28-year-old has a 1.08 ERA with 11 saves in 12 chances. He also has 42 strikeouts and has held opponent hitters to a .207 average.
JAYS EXTEND ATKINS
The Blue Jays have extended Atkins’ contract, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported on Thursday.
The Jays signed Atkins to a four year deal in 2015 and Nicholson-Smith reported that the extension covers at least the 2020 season. Atkins, 45, joined the Jays on Dec. 3, 2105 and is in the midst of rebuilding the club after playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, though those were largely Alex Anthopoulos’ teams.
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