NEW YORK — The Yankees were 90 feet away from sending a sellout crowd of 10,850 fan home happy with a walk-off win on Opening Day.
Instead, after New York came up empty with a runner on third base and one out in the bottom of the ninth, it was the Blue Jays that capitalized with a run-scoring opportunity in the late innings.
Toronto swiftly took a 3-2 lead two pitches into the top of the 10th frame, holding on in the bottom half to defeat the Yankees on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.
New York left 10 runners on base in the loss, striking out 13 times while scattering six hits. In both the seventh and ninth innings, the Yankees had the go-ahead run on third, but couldn't cash in.
"They made the pitches today, we just couldn't break through with the big hit and had our chances," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game. "I thought we pitched the ball pretty well and made the plays and gave ourselves opportunities. If we continue to do that, we'll break through."
Looking to win it outright in the ninth, Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman came in as a pinch-runner for catcher Gary Sánchez, who walked to start the frame. Moments later, Tauchman had swiped two bags, sliding into third as the winning run.
As quickly as Tauchman used his speed to get into scoring position, however, the outfielder was retired. Attempting to score on a slow chopper on the infield, Tauchman was gunned down at home plate by third baseman Cavan Biggio.
Blue Jays right-hander Jordan Romano then finished the frame by striking out Aaron Judge, sending the game to extras.
In the 10th, Toronto wasted no time jumping in front. Center fielder Randal Grichuk lined an RBI double to right off reliever Nick Nelson, scoring Jonathan Davis from second. The run was unearned, as each team starts with a runner on second base in extra innings, but proved to be the difference.
Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres each struck out in the bottom of the 10th against right-hander Julian Merryweather. For Stanton, who went 0-for-5 on Thursday, it was his third strikeout of the game.
"We had our chances," Boone added. "We're a hit or two away from having a big day on a day where the back end of the game it got a little bit difficult to see [with the shadows]. So, no, as long as we can continue to post, we'll get that rolling sooner rather than later."
Sánchez's two-run home run in the second inning was the only run-scoring play for New York.
Although he wasn't able to earn the victory in his first start in pinstripes with fans in the stands, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was magnificent. The right-hander tossed 5.1 innings of two-run ball, striking out eight while allowing five hits.
Cole was a few outs away from getting through the sixth, but hung a slider to Teoscar Hernández with one out. The Blue Jays right fielder devoured it, sending a solo home run 437 feet to the bleachers in left.
"I just want that slider back," Cole said. "I just wanted to finish a little better and to have held the lead there."
Hernández accounted for much of Toronto's offense on Thursday, registering three hits in the victory.
New York will now need to wait until Saturday afternoon, following an off day on Friday, to bounce back from the loss.