MLB·Recap

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. draws standing ovation for 13-pitch at bat

Masahiro Tanaka silenced the Blue Jays productive offence with a three-hitter and the visiting New York Yankees beat Toronto 1-0 Sunday to split a four-game series.

Blue Jays phemon entered as pinch hitter in 9th inning

Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladamir Guerrero Jr. is seen in the ninth inning during a marathon plate appearance that drew praise from teammates and fans in a 1-0 loss to the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on Saturday. (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press)

A 13-pitch, ninth-inning at-bat from rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may have ended in a double play, but it had his Blue Jays teammates and manager filled with marvel on Sunday.

"I've never seen somebody hit a double-play ball and get a standing ovation from the fans," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "That at-bat with Vladdy, against the best closer in baseball, was just awesome."

In the final inning of Toronto's 1-0 loss to the New York Yankees, Guerrero was called on to pinch-hit for catcher Reese McGuire. Brandon Drury had led off the inning with a sharp single to left field, ending a brilliant two-hit performance from Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.

In came closer Aroldis Chapman, in search of his 31st save. He swiftly went ahead on Guerrero with two swinging strikes on four-seam fastballs.

Then the fun began.

Guerrero fouled seven of the next 10 pitches while taking three balls. Chapman mixed some mid-80 mile-per-hour sliders with 100 mph fastballs. Guerrero got ahead of one of those sliders on the sixth pitch and hit a shot off the facing of the fifth deck, 20 feet to the left of the left-field foul pole.

After that swing, the 27,790 fans inside the Rogers Centre and players milling about in the dugouts and clubhouses were extra excited about this battle.

WATCH | Tanaka takes out Blue Jays batters:

Masahiro Tanaka allowed just 3 hits over 8 scoreless innings as the New York Yankees squeaked out a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. 2:03

"I was sitting beside [injured pitcher Ryan] Boruki in the locker room, and our hands were sweating," said Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton, who bounced back with a strong three-hit, six-inning outing of his own.

"If he connects that thing is going a long, long way."

Guerrero finally hit a ball into play, a hard-hit shot to Gleyber Torres. The Yankees shortstop flipped a throw to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who relayed a throw to first for a double play.

"That's obviously, in a lot of ways, the ball game there," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "In a very well-played, 1-0 game you've got a young, rising, great-looking hitter against the game's dominant closer. It was a great match to watch those two guys go at it."

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette ripped a single to left field for his second hit of the game to keep the inning going. But Chapman finally ended the proceedings by striking out Cavan Biggio.

"It took Chapman 27 pitches to get out three young guys," Montoyo said. "That was pretty cool."

Bichette has reached base in each of his 14 games to extend his club record to start a career. The Blue Jays have gone 9-5 since he was promoted from triple-A Buffalo on July 29.

"This past a week-and-a-half it's been a fun atmosphere in the locker room, and hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the year," said Biggio after Toronto split its four-game series against the Yankees.

"These past four games against one of the best teams in the whole league shows that we're able to compete right now."

About the Author

Tim has covered the hockey landscape and other sports in Canada for more than 25 years for CBC Sports, the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun. He has been to three Winter Olympics, 11 Stanley Cups, a world championship as well as 17 world junior championships, 13 Memorial Cups and 13 University Cups. The native of Waterloo, Ont., always has his eye out for an underdog story.

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