Yankees’ bats suck life out of raucous home opener in loss to Blue Jays

The buzz for the Yankees’ home opener Friday afternoon was palpable before first pitch.

But across nine innings, the air slowly leaked out of the balloon that was Yankee Stadium.

Marcus Stroman blanked the Blue Jays for six innings but the Yankees provided him a whole lot of zeroes in return in a 3-0 loss in front of a chilly sellout crowd of 47,812 in The Bronx.

“The crowd was ready to go, ready to erupt,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Unfortunately we just didn’t get it going offensively to really blow the roof off.”

Ernie Clement hit a pinch-hit home run off lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson for the 1-0 lead in the seventh inning before the Blue Jays added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth off Dennis Santana and a wild Nick Burdi.

Caleb Ferguson allowed a home run in the Yankees’ loss to the Blue Jays on Friday. Charles Wenzelberg

The Yankees, meanwhile, did not step foot on third base all day.

They had mustered just four hits (all singles) off left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and the Blue Jays bullpen entering the ninth inning before Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe hit back-to-back two-out singles to tease a comeback.

Nick Burdi allowed two inherited runners to score in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ loss Friday. Charles Wenzelberg
The Blue Jays added two runs in the ninth inning through wild pitches. Charles Wenzelberg

But ex-Yankee Chad Green got Alex Verdugo to fly out to the warning track in right field to end it.

“This lineup, I don’t see us having many starts like that,” said Stroman, who fed off the early crowd energy and tossed six scoreless innings on 98 pitches. “They’re going to swing it, they’re going to score runs. We had a hot start on the road and sometimes you just run into games where you’re not as hot.”

Both of the Yankees’ losses this season through eight games have been shutouts.

There was plenty of anticipation heading into Friday.

The Yankees had come home with a 6-1 record after a strong road trip against the Astros and Diamondbacks in which Juan Soto had done Juan Soto things.

Ernie Clement hit a pinch-hit home run for the Blue Jays on Friday. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Soto got a thunderous ovation during pregame introductions and saw flags of his native Dominican Republic scattered throughout the stands.

In the top of the first inning, he showed the love back to the fans when he took off his hat and bowed to the Bleacher Creatures during their roll call.

But Soto was unable to add any production with his bat or eye, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

After whiffing for a second time to end the eighth inning — an at-bat in which he was angered by a 2-0 pitch that was out of the zone being called a strike — he spiked his bat and helmet down on the dirt.

Marcus Stroman allowed three hits across six innings for the Yankees on Friday. Charles Wenzelberg

“It’s just frustration that comes out,” Soto said. “You want to do so much things for this fan base and get your team going. You have the chance to do it and couldn’t get it done, it really gets you mad. At the end of the day, that’s my fault. Shouldn’t do that, but things happen.”

The offensive malaise wasted Stroman’s terrific first start in The Bronx as a Yankees.

He struck out six and allowed only five baserunners (three hits, one walk, one error), building on the six-inning, three-unearned-run start he made against the Astros in his debut.

Alex Verdugo flew out with two runners on base to end Friday’s game. Charles Wenzelberg

The Long Island native also soaked up the atmosphere.

As he walked out to the bullpen 40 minutes before first pitch, he pumped his arms to the crowd to get a roar.

Later, as he walked off the mound following his final pitch, he clapped into his glove toward the crowd as it gave him an ovation for his work.

Juan Soto reacts after striking out during the Yankees’ loss in their home opener Friday. Charles Wenzelberg

“Just to feel the love from the crowd, that meant everything for me,” Stroman said.

The Yankees put at least one runner on base in five of the first seven innings but had nothing to show for it.

Giancarlo Stanton stranded three runners with a pair of strikeouts, having started the season 3-for-24 with 13 strikeouts, while Volpe was caught stealing second base in another inning and Jose Trevino also grounded into a double play.

It all combined for a buzzkill of a loss to open up Yankee Stadium for the year.

“Not the end result we wanted, so we really didn’t give them too much to cheer about,” said Aaron Judge, who went 0-for-2 with two walks. “We gotta come back out [Saturday] and get things going against another good pitcher [Kevin Gausman].”

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