NEW YORK (AP) – Dellin Betances threw a full-count breaking ball with no bite to Russell Martin that sailed well high and outside, forcing in the go-ahead run with his fourth walk of the eighth inning.
The All-Star reliever swiped at the toss back from catcher Austin Romine as manager Joe Girardi walked to the mound and fans booed on another long afternoon for the New York Yankees.
“The team is fighting. You can’t put the blame on those guys. I’ll take the blame,” Betances said after Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning off Michael Pineda, who also allowed Kevin Pillar’s leadoff homer in the fourth that put the Blue Jays ahead 5-0.
Aaron Judge started a comeback with his major league-leading 29th homer, a two-run homer in the fourth. The Yankees surged ahead 6-5 when Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Didi Gregorius’s two-run double later in the inning chased Marco Estrada, who was pitching on his 33rd birthday.
Judge’s homer tied Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie record , set in 1936, and Choi’s came in his New York debut.
Martin tied the score 6-6 with a seventh-inning homer against Chad Green, then walked to drive in the go-ahead run in the eighth.
With a runner on first, Roberto Osuna struck out Judge for the final out.
“Our best against their best,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said, “and our best won.”
Miguel Montero, making his Blue Jays debut, fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches leading off their eighth against Betances (3-4) before taking an inside curve. Worried about a bunt, Betances walked Pillar on four pitches, then put on No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins with four more. He started Jose Bautista with another ball – his 10th in a row- before recovering to throw a called third strike past the slugger.
Betances fell behind Martin 2-0, evened the count, and missed with a pair of curves.
“In the short term I’m concerned about him. Long term I’m not,” Girardi said.
Betances has walked 17 of his past 55 batters, including 11 of his past 22. He’s rushing his lower body, causing him to fly open.
“I’m between two different deliveries, and it’s not helping me when I’m out there,” he said.
Betances, a 6-foot-8 right-hander picked for his fourth straight All-Star Game, admitted he was frustrated.
“It’s a big body,” Romine said. “It’s hard for him to get stuff going the way he needed to go.”
Adam Warren relieved, threw a called third strike past Smoak, then retired Morales on a flyout.
Last-place Toronto took two of three from New York and won consecutive games for the first time since June 18-19.
Leading the AL East by four games on June 13 with a 38-23 record, the Yankees have lost 16 of their past 22 and are 0-6-1 in their past seven series.
“You can turn it around and get hot and win a lot of games like we were before,” Girardi said.
Danny Barnes (2-2) threw 1 2/3 innings and Osuna converted his 20th consecutive save chance and 21st overall this season.
Brett Gardner singled with two outs, and Osuna struck out Judge, who unsuccessfully tried to check his swing on a low, outside slider.
“I got fooled,” Judge said.
HERE COMES THE JUDGE
Judge joined Mark McGwire in 1987 (33) and Jose Abreu in 2014 (29) as the only rookies with 29 homers before the All-Star break. He reached DiMaggio’s Yankees record in New York’s 83rd game.
“Any time you’re in the sentence as someone like DiMaggio is pretty incredible,” Judge said. “It’s quite an honor.”
Montero went 0 for 4, two days after he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs.
Choi, who went 1 for 4, was called up by the Yankees from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Chris Carter was designated for assignment. Choi’s drive into the right-field seats would have traveled 457 feet unimpeded, according to MLB’s Statcast. Choi became the seventh player to start at first base for the Yankees this year and 10th to play the position.
Pineda was 6-2 with a 3.32 ERA in the first two months of the season, but has alternated good and bad performances in his past seven outings. He gave up five runs and nine hits in three-innings plus, raising his ERA to 4.39.
“His slider has not been good,” Girardi said. “He needs to find that because that pitch is really important to him.”
Toronto’s Josh Donaldson, in a 1-for-23 slump, was given the day off.
Blue Jays: C Luke Maile, who went on the DL Tuesday, will need a procedure on his right knee, according to manager John Gibbons.
Yankees: DH Matt Holliday, on the DL since June 28 with a viral illness, took batting practice and could return Friday.
Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-4) starts at home Thursday against Houston and Lance McCullers Jr. (7-1).
Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (6-4) is slated to start Friday’s series opener against visiting Milwaukee and RHP Junior Guerra (1-3).
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