TORONTO — Austin Wells has opened eyes during his September audition in the big leagues.
The rookie catcher has showcased more defensive ability than scouts had forecast, his arm is stronger than advertised, pitchers enjoy throwing to him and the bat can play at this level, too.
Wells snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run, opposite-field homer in the ninth inning off closer Jordan Romano, lifting the Yankees to a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday evening at Rogers Centre.
The backstop’s third big league homer provided the necessary margin of victory after starter Michael King continued to state his case to begin the 2024 season in the Yankees’ rotation, flashing an ability to limit damage on an uncharacteristically wild evening.
Since joining the rotation in mid-August, King has compiled a 1.49 ERA (6 ER / 36 1/3 IP) across eight starts, including Tuesday’s 98-pitch effort in which he limited Toronto to one single and five walks, striking out five.
The outing came one turn through the rotation after King registered a career-high 13 strikeouts across seven innings, also against Toronto. King and Clarke Schmidt hope to answer some of the questions in the Yanks’ 2024 rotation beyond ace Gerrit Cole, with Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes coming off injury-marred seasons and Luis Severino headed for free agency.
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman held the Yankees hitless until the sixth inning, when Estevan Florial lined a single to center field.
The Yanks had a good chance to score off Gausman in the seventh, when Giancarlo Stanton laced a one-out double. Stanton was held at third base on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s single to right field, then he was thrown out at home plate attempting to score on Oswaldo Cabrera’s ground ball to shortstop Bo Bichette.