A thin bullpen deprives Jays of a sweep of the Yankees

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The sweep was in the Blue Jays’ grasp, but a short bullpen got in the way of getting the brooms out for the visiting Yankees.

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New York managed to salvage the final game of this three-game set, 6-4, with a four-run ninth as they got to a returning-from-injury Erik Swanson for three runs and Tim Mayza, who was called on to close things out with the trio of Jordan Romano, Chad Green and Yimi Garcia unavailable.

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Without Green and Garcia, who had pitched the previous two days in a row and three of the past four, and with Romano just back from the injured list and having pitched Tuesday night, the options at the back end of the Jays bullpen dwindled, forcing Mayza into a part of the game he normally wouldn’t see.

The Garcia and Romano situations were predictable given where they are in their seasons, but the Green absence was unexpected. The ex-Yankee was never in the cards according to manager John Schneider after the right-hander complained of some shoulder stiffness after his previous outing.

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As it stands now for Green, Schneider said the team is hoping his day off Wednesday, Thursday’s travel day, along with treatment, will be enough to get him back in the lineup without missing any more time.

“Obviously would have loved to have him in there today, but you got to do what is right for the player,” Schneider said.

The sour taste a loss like this one leaves is unavoidable, but the Jays were doing their best to see the positives and there certainly were a handful this homestand.

A trio of series wins is nothing to ignore, particularly when the Jays arrived home following a rough 4-6 start to the year.

“You have a sweep right there against a really good team and didn’t get it done, but really good homestand,” Schneider said. “Bats were really good up and down the lineup against good pitching. I thought we played extremely well.”

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Among the highlights of the homestand was the re-emergence of Daulton Varsho’s power, which was on display again on Wednesday with a two-homer game, a solo blast off starter Marcus Stroman and a two-run shot off reliever Caleb Ferguson.

It marked just the second time in Varsho’s career he has enjoyed a multi-homer day and gives him four round-trippers on the year which is a team high at the moment.

“Honestly it was just some talks with my teammates and everyone trying to help me out and figuring out what I had to correct to get my bat path through the strike zone for a longer period of time,” he said of the changes he has made. “George (Springer) sat me down on the plane. Bo (Bichette) was there, Vlad (Guerrero Jr.) was there and everybody was talking and trying to help me out and I thought that was really cool.”

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And if the fans aren’t getting excited about Varsho turning things around, they can certainly jump back on the Kevin Gausman bandwagon.

Gausman has not been the Gausman of years past to start the year after missing most of spring training and starting the season without much of a build-up. His velocity has been down, his control has been off and, subsequently, the results have not been what we have come to expect from him.

Early on Wednesday, Gausman gave some signs that he was getting back to his norm. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but the velocity was back, even if the control still somewhat wavered.

But by the third inning, any doubts about his return to form ceased as he went through the heart of the Yankees order giving up a single to Juan Soto that just eluded the reach of Davis Schneider at second and then erased him on a double-play ground ball up the middle on which Bichette made a fine play.

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Gausman then ended the frame on a nasty splitter to Anthony Rizzo that had the veteran first baseman walking back to the dugout shaking his head.

A pitch-heavy first-inning, when the Yankees loaded the bases but failed to score, got Gausman’s pitch count up to the point that by the time the fifth rolled around, he was looking at about 100 pitches. Gausman, though, ended his day on a high note by striking out Aaron Judge on a diving splitter that the Yankees slugger swung well over.

It was easily Gausman’s best performance of the season to date and lowered his ERA from 11:57 down to 7.54.

“I just had to get back to who I am and that’s throwing fastballs and splits,” Gausman said. “Really kind of going after guys and not feeling like I’m backed into a corner and have to throw any certain pitch. It was nice to have that feeling again.”

Gausman isn’t an excuse-maker, but even he’ll admit the abbreviated build-up to the season has played a role in his early struggles.

“I think sounds like an excuse but that definitely had something to do with it,” Gausman said. “Hopefully as we go, I’m only going to get better and better and hopefully we can put those ones behind us.”

The Jays now take their game back on the road heading out to San Diego for a three-game set beginning Friday before moving on to Kansas City for four more.


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