Snider gets his feet wet, but Jays fall
Prospect collects first big league hit; Burnett allows two runs
NEW YORK -- It was undoubtedly a memorable evening for Travis Snider on Friday. The Blue Jays rookie outfielder received his first taste of the big leagues on the historic stage that is Yankee Stadium. In his second trip to the plate, he notched his first career hit, and did so with family and friends in the stands.
Snider also got his first look at what has ailed the Blue Jays all season long: a continued lack of run support. Shortly after collecting that long-awaited hit, Snider also crossed home plate for the first time -- the lone run managed by Toronto in a 2-1 loss to New York. Three games in a row now, the Jays' bats effectively canceled out a strong pitching performance.
"We've had three ballgames and we've scored three runs," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "The offense has really stalled on this road trip. Guys have pitched great. We just can't get them any run support."
The latest victim was Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett, who in logging his first complete game of the season -- an eight-inning gem -- was also hung with a loss. That makes it three losses in a row for Toronto (68-66), dropping the club 10 games back of Boston in the American League Wild Card standings, for those counting at home.
With just 28 games to play, the development of Snider -- Toronto's prized prospect -- will replace the Jays' dwindling postseason aspirations as the primary storyline. The club is interested to see how he fares in left field (he made a leaping catch in foul territory against New York) and if his steady offense can carry over to the big leagues.
Snider admitted that it was a bit of a relief to get his first career hit out of the way. He accomplished just that by drilling a 1-1 pitch from Yankees starter Carl Pavano deep to center field, where the baseball dropped just over the outstretched glove of center fielder Johnny Damon. The ball then hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double.
Snider, 20, will just have to wait a tad longer to experience his first big-league victory.
"It felt good to come out there and be able to just put the ball in play," Snider said. "Fortunately, it went over his head. Obviously, to start off your career with a ground-rule double is pretty special -- at Yankee Stadium. I'll just look to get after it tomorrow to help the club win."
Snider did his part against the Yankees (72-62), scoring on a single by Marco Scutaro two batters later. That cut New York's lead to 2-1, but the Jays' record dropped to 6-7 against the Bronx Bombers this season. Snider's double actually snapped a stretch of 16 batters in which Pavano didn't allow a hit.
Pavano (2-0) exited after six innings, but a quintet of New York relievers followed him to the hill and held Toronto in check. The Blue Jays did put runners on first and second base with no outs in the eighth, but a strikeout from Snider, a fielder's-choice groundout from Joe Inglett and a strikeout by Scutaro ended the threat.
All the runs New York required came in the fourth inning, when Burnett (16-10) allowed a leadoff single to Damon. The Yankees' center fielder promptly stole second base and later scored when Bobby Abreu sliced a double into right field, where Snider quickly cut off the ball to stop it from rolling to the wall.
"I battled the best I could," said Burnett, who finished with eight strikeouts and just one walk. "Just one pitch that the first runner scored on was not where I wanted it. But, I did a good job of blocking out the things that you need to block out and continued to push forward."
One pitch later, Alex Rodriguez chopped a pitch to Scutaro at short, where he gloved the ball and tried to throw a running Abreu out at third base. Scutaro bobbled the ball and made an off-target throw, putting runners on the corners with one out.
New York's Jason Giambi followed by lofting a pitch toward left field. As the baseball carried into foul territory, a sprinting Snider tracked it down and made a wall-banging grab to snare the fly ball. Abreu easily tagged up and scored on the play to put the Jays behind, 2-0.
"You've always got to take the out," said Gaston, when asked about Snider's decision to catch the foul ball. "In the big leagues, you've got to take the out. You don't know what's going to happen on the next pitch. If you give big league teams more than three outs, you're going to get beat."
Of course, the Blue Jays got beat anyway, thanks to the limp lumber. Over the past three games, Toronto's starters have posted a 2.38 ERA, but have combined for an 0-3 record. During the first four games of this six-game road trip, Toronto has actually outscored its opponents, 9-8.
At least the addition of Snider provided a silver lining.
"He showed that he wasn't too nervous -- that was good," Gaston said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him play some more."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.