TORONTO (AP) Sonny Gray will get at least one more chance to show he deserves to keep his place in New York’s rotation, though the Yankees are growing increasingly concerned about the struggling starter.
Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer, Yangervis Solarte reached base four times and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Gray and the Yankees 6-2 on Friday night.
Smoak connected in Toronto’s five-run second inning, when the Blue Jays batted around and put an early end to Gray’s outing.
”I am concerned but we also believe in the stuff,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Gray. ”We’ve got to try and help him right the ship a little bit.”
Gray (5-7) allowed five runs and six hits in two innings, his shortest start of the season and his third straight loss.
”It’s not early in the season anymore,” Gray said. ”This is when you’re expected to go out there and contribute and get in some type of rhythm and put together solid starts back to back. I haven’t even been close to being able to do that.”
Gray lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his previous start, matching a season worst by allowing six runs in an 11-0 loss to the division-leading Boston Red Sox.
Boone said Gray will face Baltimore next week and dismissed the idea of skipping Gray to help clear his head.
”Part of it is right now we feel like he’s our best option,” Boone said.
Solarte went 3 for 4 with a walk as the Blue Jays won for the 12th time in 16 home games.
Aaron Hicks homered and had two RBIs in the opener of New York’s 11-game road trip. Hicks has hit five home runs in his past five games.
Gray retired the first two batters before loading the bases with two walks and a single. He escaped unscathed when Russell Martin struck out swinging.
Things went downhill for Gray in the second, which began with Randal Grichuk’s double. One out later, Devon Travis and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back RBI singles. Smoak capped the inning with a two-out homer, his 12th.
Hicks hit a solo home run in the third, his career-high 16th, then chased Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. Joe Biagini came on and struck out Giancarlo Stanton looking, then got Didi Gregorius to fly out.
New York went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners stranded.
”We just didn’t get that hit to put us over tonight,” Boone said.
Gaviglio allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. Gaviglio is winless in seven starts, dating to a May 25 victory at Philadelphia.
Biagni (1-5) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win, snapping a streak of 10 straight losing decisions.
Five Blue Jays relievers combined to pitch 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
”Our bullpen did some kind of job,” manager John Gibbons said.
Boone said finishing off hitters is Gray’s biggest challenge.
”It’s getting himself into good counts and making pitches when he has a chance to put guys away,” Boone said. ”That’s what he’s really struggled with.”
David Hale pitched 5 2/3 innings in relief of Gray, his longest career outing as a reliever. Hale allowed one run and five hits.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Sallie Gibbons, the 80-year-old mother of John Gibbons, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to her son. ”It made my night, that’s for sure,” said Gibbons, who got his mom to autograph the ball afterward.
Yankees: New York recalled INF Tyler Wade from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He takes the place of 2B Gleyber Torres (right hip), who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday. … RHP Masahiro Tanaka (left and right hamstring strains) allowed two runs and three hits in five innings in a rehab start at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Tanaka is expected to return to New York’s rotation next Tuesday at Baltimore. … Boone said LHP CC Sabathia will pitch the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Orioles. New York will call up a pitcher from the minors to start Game 2, Boone said, with RHP Luis Cessa and RHP Jonathan Loaisiga among the candidates.
Blue Jays: LHP Jaime Garcia (shoulder) felt good after a bullpen session Friday and will be re-evaluated Saturday. He has yet to begin a rehab assignment. … Utilityman Darnell Sweeney cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Yankees RHP Luis Severino (13-2, 1.98) faces Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-4, 4.03) on Saturday afternoon. Severino, who leads the majors in wins, will be pitching on extra rest thanks to New York’s off day Thursday. Happ lost to Detroit last Sunday, matching season worsts by allowing seven runs and 10 hits. The defeat snapped Happ’s streak of six straight winning decisions.
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