Jason Grilli got his name in the Blue Jays record books on Saturday. It wasn’t the type of benchmark he wanted, though.
Grilli came on in the eighth inning and gave up solo homers to Brett Gardner, Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius en route to a 7-0 loss to the New York Yankees, becoming the first Toronto reliever in the team’s 40-year history to surrender four home runs in a single inning.
With few rested options in the bullpen, manager John Gibbons tried to keep the 15-year veteran in the inning as long as he could before finally pulling him after the fourth homer, replacing him with J.P. Howell with two out.
“That’s never easy for a manager to sit there (and watch) because you know what’s inside the guy, you know what the guy’s made of — he’s team all the way,” Gibbons said of Grilli, who did not talk to the media after the game.
“Normal circumstances where there’s a few guys who can pitch he probably doesn’t stay in there that long. Everybody feels for that. Grilli’s had some great moments here, some big moments for us, and he’s been pitching pretty good lately.
“It’s just one of those days, the ball was flying and they got some pretty good swings on them.”
The four-run inning marred a solid start from Joe Biagini (1-4), the hard-luck loser who gave up three runs, only one of them earned, on four hits for the Blue Jays (27-29).
The 27-year-old right-hander, in his sixth start in place of injured pitchers in Toronto’s rotation, threw 100 pitches over seven innings, both career highs.
“I think that at this point in my career, and starting experience, my goal is to try to keep the team in the game, give us a chance to win and be as efficient as possible with my pitches and I tried my best to do that,” Biagini said.
“I just need to make my goal to learn as much as I can from each opportunity to pitch. I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to start but there are things that will translate over into the bullpen for me as well.”
Biagini cruised through the first 2 1/3 innings, allowing one base runner on a walk before a rare Troy Tulowitzki fielding error led to two runs.
Tulowitzki, who came into the game with a career .985 fielding percentage, bobbled a ground ball from Rob Refsnyder with one out. Refsnyder stole second, advanced to third on a fly ball, and scored the game’s first run on an Aaron Hicks double. Aaron Judge followed with a double of his own, plating Hicks for a 2-0 lead.
“I’m not ready to play the victim card just yet,” Biagini said of the circumstances surrounding the unearned runs. “I don’t know, is it bad luck or is it just things that happen?
“Your job is to try to prevent guys from hitting the ball hard consistently and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”
The Blue Jays couldn’t solve New York (32-21) starter Jordan Montgomery (3-4) all afternoon. The left-hander pitched six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out five.
Relievers Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances kept the game scoreless.
Gregorius added an RBI double in the seventh for a 3-0 Yankees lead before the floodgates opened in the eighth.
Gardner started the barrage, leading off the inning by launching his 12th homer of the season over the right-field wall. Holliday, Castro and Gregorius followed with back-to-back-to-back homers — all with two out.
“It’s pretty unusual,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the four-homer inning. “You’re probably not going to see that very often.”
Luke Maile, starting in place of No. 1 catcher Russell Martin (neck) for a third straight game, had two of Toronto’s three hits. New York had eight hits.
NOTES: Attendance was 47,226. ... The Blue Jays close out their four-game series against New York Sunday afternoon. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28 earned-run average) starts for Toronto. The Yankees counter with Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93 ERA).Report Typo/Error