NEW YORK (AP) — Randal Grichuk led off the 10th with an RBI double, and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of the second year of starting extra innings with a runner on second to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 Thursday in the major league opener.
Fans returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since 2019. Capacity was limited to 20% because of coronavirus protocols, and the attendance was announced as 10,850.
Jordan Romano (1-0) escaped trouble in the ninth with the help of third baseman Cavan Biggio. After pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole two bases, he was thrown out at the plate by Biggio trying to score on a grounder by AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu. Romano then struck out Aaron Judge to strand two runners.
Nick Nelson (0-1) relieved to begin the 10th and with pinch-runner Jonathan Davis on second, Grichuk lined his second pitch over Judge in right.
Julian Merryweather struck out Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres on 11 pitches for the save.
Teoscar Hernández hit a tying homer in the sixth off Gerrit Cole as Toronto improved to 23-22 in openers.
New York lost for the first time in four openers under manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees had not played an extra-inning opener since 1987.
Fans were at Yankee Stadium for the first time in 532 days since the loss to Houston in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series on Oct, 18, 2019. They had to show proof of complete vaccination at least two weeks earlier of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Masks were required and groups of fans separated by empty seats into pods.
On an afternoon with a game time temperature of 43 degrees, some fans entered the stadium with navy Yankees blankets that were still wrapped in plastic. Some wore jerseys with famous retired numbers such as 5 (Joe DiMaggio) and 8 (Yogi…