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Apr 6, 2024 7:25 am

Yankees face Jays, look to end recent frustration

aaron judge

In the eighth inning of his New York Yankees home debut on Friday, Juan Soto flung his bat in frustration after striking out for the second time.

After a hot start, Soto has just one hit in his past 16 at-bats, and the newest Yankees slugger hopes to avoid another rough game Saturday night when New York hosts the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Yankees are 6-2, but both losses have been shutouts. On Friday, they were held to six hits, struck out 11 times and had just two at-bats with runners in scoring position in a 3-0 loss that marked the first time New York was blanked in its home opener since 1967.

Soto saw 17 pitches in four at-bats after getting some of the loudest cheers in pre-game introductions. He struck out in the third against Yusei Kikuchi before he was called out on strikes against Trevor Richards in a one-run game.

“It’s tough,” Soto said. “It’s just frustration that just comes out. You want to do some of these things and get your team going, and you have the chance to do it and couldn’t get it done. It really gets you mad.”

Soto was hardly the only culprit of New York’s disappointing home debut. The trio of Soto, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton went a combined 0-for-10 with five strikeouts.

“It’s tough to do,” Toronto manager John Schneider said of his team’s approach to the middle of New York’s lineup. “I think they were on the attack for one, and I think you fall into trouble when you try to nibble against those guys and you get them into good hitters’ counts. To their credit none of them did it; they stayed on the attack once they got ahead.”

Toronto has scored five total runs in its past two wins, and those victories were decided in the late innings. On Tuesday, Davis Schneider hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win at Houston. And on Friday, Ernie Clement hit a pinch-hit homer in the seventh off Caleb Ferguson, and the Blue Jays scored twice on wild pitches in the ninth.

Kevin Gausman (0-0, 2.08 ERA), who began his third season with Toronto by allowing one run on two hits in 4 1/3 innings on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, will make his 300th career appearance on Saturday.

Gausman, who dealt with shoulder fatigue in spring training, threw 69 pitches and averaged 94.5 mph on his four-seam fastball on Sunday.

Gausman is 10-7 with a 3.01 ERA in 31 career appearances (25 starts) against the Yankees. Since joining the Blue Jays, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA in seven starts against New York.

Clarke Schmidt (0-0, 5.06), who started his second full season in the rotation by allowing three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, will start for the Yankees. Last season, he threw a career-high 159 innings.

Schmidt is 0-3 with a 2.70 ERA in five career appearances against the Blue Jays. In his two starts against them last season, the right-hander allowed seven runs and four homers in 10 2/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

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