NEW YORK – Michael King escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam created by Aroldis Chapman to preserve the New York Yankees’ 3-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night after Luis Severino became the first pitcher to strike out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. three times.
Guerrero struck out four times in all for the first time in his career, a night after hitting three homers and going 4 for 4.
Handed a 3-0 lead, Chapman threw just four of 16 pitches for strikes. He walked the bottom three batters in Toronto’s order: Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal and pinch-hitter Matt Chapman.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone removed Chapman in favor of King, a 26-year-old right-hander.
“It’s a tough call,” Boone said of pulling Chapman. “I felt he could have gotten out of it.”
In the first save opportunity of his big league career, King struck out George Springer on three pitches, throwing a fastball for a called third strike.
“A ton of adrenaline and then knowing you have to execute,” King said.
With Guerrero in the on-deck circle, Bo Bichette took a called strike, then hit a soft liner to second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who threw to first to double off Chapman for the final out. The Yankees shut out Toronto for the second time in the four-game series.
“He was tremendous,” Boone said. “Obviously coming up against the guys he was coming up there, to do what he did there with Springer was huge and then gets ahead of Bo there and gets some soft contact.
“It made you nervous like it was headed for the outfield, but DJ looked like he got a really good read on it and turned a really nice double play on it.”
King’s escape act continued a strong start for New York’s bullpen. The Yankees closed out their first homestand with a 1.30 ERA through their first 34 2/3 innings.
Severino (1-0) allowed two hits in five innings, struck out six and walked two. Lucas Luetge, Miguel Castro, Clay Holmes and Chad Green followed before the ninth-inning drama.
Following a 95-minute rain delay, Severino got his first win as a starting pitcher since Sept. 22, 2019, also against Toronto. He threw 83 pitches, 18 more than his season debut on Saturday against Boston and he averaged 97.4 mph for 33 fastballs.
“Trevino, (pitching coach Matt) Blake and I did a very good job of trying to look at the weakness (of Guerrero),” Severino said. “He’s a great hitter. So every time you can contain him that’s great.”
Jose Trevino hit RBI singles in the third and fifth inning off Kevin Gausman (0-1) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa also had three hits and scored on Trevino’s hits. New York’s Nos. 8-9 hitters entered 4 for 43 with one RBI.
Giancarlo Stanton added an RBI groundout in the eighth.
Guerrero struck out in the first on a changeup, took a called third strike on a cutter on the outside corner in the third and whiffed on another Severino changeup in the fifth. He struck out on a slider from Holmes opening the eighth.
“You got to give Severino credit, he had the stuff today,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Gausman allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out nine and walked none.
Blue Jays: OF Teoscar Hernández was placed on the 10-day IL with a left oblique strain and manager Charlie Montoyo is optimistic it will be a short absence. Hernández was injured in the sixth inning on Wednesday. … RHP Ryan Borucki (strained right hamstring) will throw one inning in a simulated game at the spring training complex in Dunedin on Friday. … INF Gosuke Katoh was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to replace Hernández
Blue Jays: RHP Ross Stripling (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will start against Athletics RHP Daulton Jefferies (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Friday night in Toronto.
Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 8.10 ERA) will start against Orioles RHP Jordan Lyles (0-1, 9.00 ERA) Friday night in Baltimore. Montgomery took a 103 mph comebacker off his left knee from Boston’s Xander Bogaerts on Sunday.