Bumbling Yankees drop finale to Jays
Eight-run Toronto fifth proves Bombers' undoing
TORONTO -- Between the lengthy innings they spent squinting on the bright Rogers Centre turf, the Yankees did waste a few exasperated breaths grumbling about the challenges of fielding baseballs they couldn't see.
But the club's sloppiest loss of 2009 won't mean much in the long run, so the Yankees packed their bags and headed for home mostly excuse-free. This 14-8 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday and season-high four errors could just be written off as a bad day in the sun.
"It's not Yankee baseball, and it's not what we've done all year," manager Joe Girardi said. "You're going to have some ugly games during the course of the season. They're hard to predict when they're going to come and you don't like them, but you know every club is going to have them."
Sergio Mitre was hit for 11 runs (nine earned) and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings, but he received almost no help from his defense. The tone was set early for a helpless afternoon filled with missed fly balls, colliding outfielders and flubbed grounders.
Perhaps the only positive development was the three hits off the bat of shortstop Derek Jeter, who left after the sixth inning for a defensive replacement. Jeter now has 2,718 hits as a Yankee, needing just three more to tie Lou Gehrig for the most all-time in club history.
"It wasn't a good day," Jeter said. "You just chalk it up as that we've been playing good, and this was one of those days, I guess. That's pretty much all you can say about it."
The first batter Mitre faced, Marco Scutaro, reached on a Jerry Hairston Jr. error, and things didn't get a whole lot better from there. The big killer was Toronto's eight-run fifth inning, in which Mitre faced eight batters and retired just one.
"All that stuff happens, you know? It's part of the game," Mitre said. "The only way I can look at that is try to pick up my teammates and get outs behind that, which I was able to do a couple of times. In the last inning, it pretty much fell apart."
Mitre allowed three runs (two earned) in the first inning and another in the third, as Nick Swisher crumpled without sight of a Vernon Wells double, and Mark Teixeira couldn't see an Edwin Encarnacion grounder until it was almost by him, earning the first baseman just his third error of the season.
But with the Yankees putting up five runs against Toronto left-hander Brian Tallet, Mitre ducked and weaved to carry a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, helped by Swisher's two-run homer in the top half, his 24th of the season and 21st away from Yankee Stadium.
It wasn't meant to be, as Mitre was hammered in an inning where Hairston double-pumped a Joe Inglett grounder to third base, thinking about throwing home before missing his chance to record an out at first base. After the play, an exasperated Mitre looked skyward and admitted his frustration.
"I thought I was throwing the ball well, but I really don't have much to show for it today," Mitre said. "I wish it would have been a little bit different. Everything felt good, but it's just unfortunate, the game we had."
"[Mitre] got no luck," Teixeira said. "It was tough for us out there, and he ended up having a tough outing because of it."
Mitre's last pitch was a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Hill. By the time the fifth-inning barrage ended, three Yankees pitchers had taken the mound and 14 Blue Jays came to the plate, with rookie right-hander Mark Melancon issuing two more bases-loaded free passes and an RBI single to Wells.
Josh Towers made his Yankees debut and hit the first batter he faced, Randy Ruiz, in the left cheek with a pitch to force home the 12th Toronto run. Ruiz walked off the field under his own power, and Towers said he had been rattled by the scary moment.
"It's just unfortunate," Towers said. "I was trying to elevate a fastball [at] 0-2, because we threw a couple of sliders to him, and I think he was looking away. It was a bad situation for everyone."
Not that it was the only frightening play of the day for the Yankees. Left fielder Johnny Damon and center fielder Melky Cabrera collided in pursuit of a Wells fly ball to end the Toronto sixth, with Cabrera falling to the turf for a brief moment before getting up.
"That was just a little bit of late communication," Damon said. "The ball went up, and I saw him look at me. I called it, and he called it a little bit later. Good thing he caught it, because we'd still be out there."
Girardi said the ball was Cabrera's -- he should grab everything he can get to -- and that there was an issue to address.
"That scares me," Girardi said. "That's something that at this junction shouldn't happen. But it did, and you talk about it and move forward."
Facing Tallet, Hideki Matsui had a two-run bloop single off the end of his bat, and Swisher added an RBI double in the third inning, as Matsui kicked the ball loose from catcher Rod Barajas on a slide into the plate.
Cabrera showed no ill effects from his collision with Damon in slugging a three-run homer, his 12th, off Brian Wolfe in the seventh that cut the deficit to 14-8. But that was as close as the Yankees could get in wrapping up their successful 5-2 swing through Baltimore and Toronto.
"We had a great road trip," Teixeira said. "[The loss] doesn't take anything away from what we accomplished the last week. We're ready to go back home and play some good ball."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.