TORONTO — It was 11 games, that’s all. The Yankees major-league leading winning streak came to an end Wednesday night because Nestor Cortes was not quite as sharp as normal and the Bombers bats were quieted by Yusei Kikuchi. The Blue Jays held the Bombers off 2-1 at the Rogers Centre to snap the streak.
“It’s just 11 games. We got more work to do,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. “It’s tough to talk about after a loss like this, but a lot of good things happened. We showed what this team’s made of, how we can win games with our pitching and our offense. We can play small ball or let it fly.
“We just gotta keep it consistent when we get back home.”
Joey Gallo, back in the lineup after missing three games with a tight left groin, homered off Kikuchi in the third inning to tie the game. That was one of just three hits the Yankees got off the Blue Jays’ lefty. He went six innings, walking one and striking out seven.
The Yankees had just five hits total.
Judge went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-4 and stranded three batters. Giancarlo Stanton singled in the ninth after going 0-for-3 earlier in the night.
“I thought stuff-wise, he was good,” Aaron Boone said of Kikuchi after the game. “He was throwing hard. I thought he flashed a good changeup. The cutter was a good pitch for him. I know it’s been a little bit up and down for him in his start to the year, but I thought he was pretty sharp and made some good pitches. And, unfortunately, we couldn’t quite break through tonight.”
The Yankees had one last chance to keep the streak alive on Stanton’s one-out single in the ninth, followed by a Josh Donaldson single to put the tying run on second base. Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano struck out Aaron Hicks and then walked Joey Gallo.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out to third base.
Boone wasn’t there to see it though. He got ejected in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Marty Foster. He was clearly upset with low strike calls on Judge, but said it was the frustration of the night.
“We’re playing for a lot and it just felt like there were a couple (pitches) that didn’t go our way,” Boone said. Foster and crew chief Ron Kulpa declined to comment.
The Bombers still left Toronto with a 2.5 game lead in the American League East, tied for the most wins with 18 and the best winning percentage (.720) in baseball. They went 5-1 on this road trip, won both series and now have won six out of their eight series this season.
Cortes struggled with command of his fastball, missing up and needing to work with his slider and cutter more Wednesday night. Cortes managed four innings, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks. He stuck out three.
He gave up a solo home run to Matt Chapman in the second inning. Bo Bichette doubled off him in the fourth and scored on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s single.
“I wasn’t throwing enough strikes,” Cortes said simply. “I walked a handful of guys. It wasn’t there today. And I felt like that’s what ran my pitch count up.”
Cortes still has the best ERA (1.82) of the starting rotation, with 31 strikeouts over 24.1 innings pitched.
And the bullpen extended their streak to 21 scoreless innings. Michael King pitched three scoreless innings, striking out three to keep his streak alive. King has pitched 13.1 scoreless now and owns a scrawny 0.31 ERA.
They still have all the pieces from the team that put together an 11-game winning streak, so Hicks said it’s time to get back to work.
“We start it back up again,” Hicks said of the series against the Rangers in the Bronx beginning Friday. “That’s pretty much all you can do. We had a good stretch and we know what we’re capable of when we play well. We can win that many games again.”