Yanks’ bats remain cold in Toronto
It was another night of offensive futility Tuesday night at Toronto for the Yankees. They managed to score only one run — and that was on an out — as support for CC Sabathia, who was tagged with an underserved losing decision.
The combination of a punchless offense and uncharacteristic relief work by Dellin Betances sent Sabathia to his second straight loss despite six-plus innings of solid pitching (two runs, five hits, one walk, four strikeouts). A home run with two outs in the fourth inning by Justin Smoak that tied the score at 1 was one of the few mistakes made by Sabathia, who gave up a double to Edwin Encarnacion to start the seventh that hastened the call to Betances.
Manager Joe Girardi’s hook despite the fact that Sabathia had thrown just 80 pitches looked like the move to make when Betances struck out Smoak and retired Russell Martin on a fly ball to left field. That drive reached the warning track, which might have been an omen. So, too, was a four-pitch walk to Devon Travis.
There were more blunders to come. Betances got too much of the plate with a fastball to free-swinging Kevin Pillar, who punched a single to right field where Rob Refsnyder made a multi-bounce, offline throw home that failed to prevent Encarnacion from crossing the plate with the go-ahead run. Pillar, who made two sensational fielding plays in center field, made another heads-up play by stealing second base, so when Darwin Barney also singled to right two more runs, not just one, scored.
A three-run deficit in the ninth seemed insurmountable to a Yankees lineup that has gone to sleep lately, and there would be no Brian McCann pinch-hit home run to make things closer than the 4-1 final score.
This marked the 22nd time this season that the Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in a game. They have lost 20 of them, and in one of the two victories (Saturday at St. Pete) they got only one hit. Their only hit in eight at-bats Tuesday night with a runner in scoring position did not drive in a run. A single by Austin Romine only served to move Chase Headley, who had two hits, from second base to third. If Aaron Hicks had not beaten out a potential double play with a spring to first base, the Yankees might have been shut out.
Girardi is running out of rabbits to pull out of his hat to turn things around. Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez (1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since coming off the disabled list last week) was on the bench for the second consecutive night. A-Rod’s career 0-for-14 record against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was all Girardi needed to see to use Carlos Beltran instead as designated hitter.
The manager was not singling out Rodriguez, who these days has looked every bit the 40-year-old not named David Ortiz. McCann (1-for-22) and Brett Gardner (0-for-20) were also on the pine. Refsnyder got a start over Gardner and had a first-inning double but was left stranded. With right-handed Jesse Chavez on base by the eighth, Gardner batted for Refsnyder and was called out on strikes. Girardi might have used A-Rod as a pinch hitter if more than one runner had gotten on base, but that situation did not present itself after the second inning.
The six-game winning streak that brought the Yankees to a .500 record seems like ancient history now that they have lost five of their past seven games to fall three games below par at 24-27.