video thumbnail

NYY@TOR: Arencibia's homer puts the Jays on the board

TORONTO -- A visibly frustrated Brett Cecil was at a loss for words following another disappointing outing on Wednesday.

The Blue Jays left-hander battled control issues all night long and once again struggled to find the velocity with which he is accustomed to throwing.

The end result was an inconsistent five innings and a 6-2 Blue Jays loss to the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

"I don't care about velocity -- I can pitch at this level with what I have," said Cecil, who is now 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA. "It's just a matter of getting the ball down."

That is Cecil's official stance, but his actions on the mound and the response of Toronto's coaching staff suggest otherwise.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell felt that Cecil consistently topped out around 88-89 mph. That is down from the velocity Cecil had last year, when he was accustomed to throwing anywhere from 90-94 mph.

So far this season, Cecil hasn't been able to recover the extra few clicks of speed. On Wednesday night, when he tried to go into that next gear, his pitches began to elevate in the zone.

"I think tonight, any time he tried to create a little additional velocity, he did elevate some balls," Farrell said. "He's not generating his typical velocity with a normal delivery, other than when he tries to increase his energy or effort level.

"Typically, whether it's Brett or anyone else, when you get increased effort, you're going to begin to sacrifice location for the added velocity."

Cecil has tried almost everything possible with Farrell and pitching coach Bruce Walton to solve the problem. The trio has spent hours in between Cecil's starts watching video to see if they can find anything wrong with the left-hander's mechanics.

They've tried having Cecil pitch more upright in his windup to garner more power toward the plate. So far, everything they've done hasn't led to an extended period of positive results on the mound.

"I wish we had a simple elixir for it or one focal point that would turn it back on," Farrell said.

"It's still about location. Even at 88-89, with currently the way he's throwing, I know he's looking for answers. I know we're trying to provide answers to him to regain the power that he has shown and showed for most of last year."

Cecil allowed at least one baserunner in every inning he pitched against New York. The struggles began almost immediately with a one-run first inning. He allowed two more in the third and another pair in the fifth inning.

New York's Mark Teixeira did most of the damage with three doubles, while Robinson Cano added two RBIs.

Cecil was finished after the fifth inning, having surrendered five runs on six hits while walking four. He has allowed 35 baserunners in 21 innings this season for a WHIP of 1.67 -- compared to last year's WHIP of 1.33.

The results are a little more disappointing, considering that Cecil finished his last outing against Boston by retiring the final nine batters he faced. After that outing, he appeared to be as optimistic as he had been all year about his performance on the mound.

That wasn't the case on Wednesday. Farrell understands why Cecil is upset but says the club is still searching for reasons as to why it's all happening.

"We all were encouraged by the second half of his last outing," Farrell said. "We'll continue to examine all that he is going through.

"There are no physical issues -- that is what is most perplexing right now. He doesn't complain of anything shoulder-wise, nothing elbow-wise, nothing on any part of the body, so we're continuing to work with [him] and sort this out."

Toronto's offense also suffered through a quiet night at the plate. J.P. Arencibia opened the Jays scoring with a solo home run to left-center field off Yankees starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. It was Arencibia's third home run of the season and his first since Opening Night.

Colon (1-1) went into cruise control following that at-bat. He retired the next 12 batters he faced -- including seven via the strikeout. Colon was taken out with two outs in the seventh inning and was charged with just two runs, five hits and two walks. It was his first victory since May 26, 2009, against the Angels.

"I just think he got comfortable," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He got on a roll and started locating the ball. We've seen him do it since Day 1 of Spring Training. To me, it's really who he is. He was a power arm, but he really knew how to locate, and that's what he's doing."

The Blue Jays had one opportunity to get back into the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Toronto was on the verge of loading the bases following a single by Travis Snider, but Arencibia ran all the way from first to third on the play, even though third-base coach Brian Butterfield held Edwin Encarnacion on the base.

That put two runners on third, and Arencibia was tagged out on the play. Instead of having the bases loaded with one out, the Blue Jays had runners on the corners and would go on to score only one run in the inning.

"I went hard," said Arencibia, whose club has now lost four of its past five games. "In my head, it was kind of a soft-hit ball, and I thought that we would be sending the guy.

"I was going hard the entire time, and sometimes when you're too aggressive, it backfires, and that time it did. I need to pick up the lead runner, and I anticipated it wrong."

MLB.com Comments