08/12/09 7:20 PM ET
In 11th, Jays run out of steam in Bronx
Sixth-inning rally against Burnett doesn't slow Yankees
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
On Wednesday afternoon, the final blow came in the form of a game-winning single off the bat of Robinson Cano, who sent a pitch from Jays reliever Shawn Camp bouncing off the wall in right-center field to jump-start the Yankees' on-field party. The result was an all-too-familiar 4-3 loss in 11 innings for Toronto.
In the aftermath of the Jays' latest defeat, manager Cito Gaston did his best to pull out the positives.
"I don't like losing," Gaston said. "I don't like being close, but hopefully it will help us to understand that we can play with them and we will, one of these days, go past them as far as being the people who score that extra run late in the ballgame."
That has been a problematic area for the Blue Jays (54-59) all season long. The loss dropped Toronto's record in extra-inning games this season to 5-11, including 1-8 on the road. There is also that 14-21 record in one-run games and the fact that the Jays have dropped 11 of their past 12 contests decided in the last at-bat.
This season, Toronto is also just 3-9 against New York (71-43), with nine of the past 10 tilts between the clubs being separated by two or fewer runs. In those games, the Yankees boast a 7-2 mark against the Jays. Cano was just the latest player to victimize Toronto in a tightly contested game, though Gaston said it hardly seems to matter who is at the plate for New York.
"They have that kind of club over there," Gaston said of the Yankees. "They have some good hitters over there. It doesn't matter who's up there sometimes -- somebody is going to come up with a big hit. That's the way you win championships. That's the way you win the World Series."
Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero -- a leading candidate for the American League's Rookie of the Year Award -- took a no-decision after logging six innings. Romero scattered four hits, but he hit Derek Jeter on the right foot with a first-inning pitch to set the stage for New York's first run, and he later allowed a pair of costly homers.
In the third inning, Johnny Damon sent a 3-1 pitch from Romero bouncing off the facing of the second deck above right field for a solo blast that put the Jays behind, 2-1. An inning later, Cano delivered a leadoff solo shot to right that pushed the Yankees to a 3-1 lead. The Blue Jays countered with two sixth-inning runs against opposing starter A.J. Burnett to knot the score at 3.
From there, though, Toronto was blanked over the next five innings by New York's bullpen.
"It was one of those battles the whole game," Romero said. "You battle for every out. That's what these guys do. They take you down to the end. They take pitches, they take you deep in counts and I battled. You look around the clubhouse, every one of us left it out there today.
"It's really disappointing when you come out with the loss."
One bright spot for the Blue Jays came in the second inning, when Randy Ruiz sent a 94-mph fastball from Burnett bouncing into the bullpen beyond the left-field wall for a solo home run. That marked the second blast in as many games for Ruiz, who is from the Bronx and was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Ruiz's first two hits as a member of the Blue Jays were home runs, making him the first player in club history to achieve that feat since Doug Ault belted a pair in the franchise's inaugural game in 1977. The moment was made even more special by the fact that Ruiz -- a 31-year-old career Minor Leaguer -- had family and friends in the stands.
Given the game's outcome, Ruiz pointed to the fact that he came up empty three times with runners on base.
"Unfortunately, we lost the game," Ruiz said. "But you know what? Little by little, hopefully I can contribute more for the team, and maybe when I get an opportunity again with runners in scoring position, I can drive them in next time. It's a learning process. Hopefully, I can do it the next time."
As a group, the Blue Jays' offense finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, piling up 14 hits in the loss but leaving 14 men on base along the way. To Gaston, that type of showing is the main reason behind Toronto's struggles in close contests, or games that drag into extra innings.
"We had some chances," Gaston said. "We had a lot of hits today but just didn't get hits at the right time. We had some -- we did come back to tie the game up against a tough pitcher out there -- but as far as closing it out, we couldn't do it.
"It's just not getting that big hit when we need it -- that's all."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.