Results tagged ‘ David Price ’

Big Papi comes up small this time

It figured that Tuesday night’s game would come down to David Ortiz threatening to break the Yankees’ hearts once again. Big Papi, who is retiring as a player at the end of the season, is making his final appearance at Yankee Stadium this week. The Yankees are planning to honor him Thursday night, which is something the team’s fans would likely not have welcomed if Ortiz had done something a lot more damaging than striking out to end the game.

The Yankees were clinging to a two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning when Ortiz stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and two out against Tyler Clippard. Ortiz went down swinging to conclude a 0-for-5 night. Big Papi stranded six base runners in his at-bats, which is not something the Yankees have seen from him very often.

What the Yankees have seen often, especially this season, has been success against David Price. All the Yanks’ runs in the 6-4 victory came against the lefthander, who has been a punching bag for them this year. In five starts against the Yanks, Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA in 29 2/3 innings. The Yankees hit .373 with a .595 slugging percentage in 126 at-bats against Price this year.

The Yanks build leads of 3-0 and 4-2 on the strength of home runs by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. Sanchez’s two-run shot in the first inning was his 20th home run of the season, once again tying Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves for the major-league record for the quickest to that total in history just as the rookie catcher had done with his 18th and 19th. Gregorius also reached 20 for the season, extending his career high.

The Red Sox struck back with two runs off starter Luis Cessa in the sixth inning and two more off Tommy Layne in the seventh. That brought Price even before a couple of guys named Austin thrust the Yankees ahead once more.

Austin Romine lined a single to left to lead off the seventh. Tyler Austin followed with an opposite-field homer to right that proved the deciding blow. Yankees pitchers did a good job holding down the middle of Boston’s potent batting order as Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez were a combined 0-for-12.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Orioles, who lost in Toronto, but still trail Baltimore for the second American League wild card spot by four games with five remaining, the last three against the Birds at the Stadium. The Yankees’ 81st victory guaranteed them a non-losing record for the 24th consecutive season.

The Blue Jays paid a heavy price for instigating two benches-clearing incidents Monday night at Rogers Centre. J.A. Happ’s hitting Chase Headley in the second inning as retaliation for Luis Severino plunking Josh Donaldson the previous inning resulted in players on both clubs rushing onto the field.

Toronto reliever Joaquin Benoit sustained a torn left calf muscle during the scrum and is out for the remainder of the season, a major blow to the Blue Jays, who hold the firs AL wild card position. In addition, second baseman Devon Travis jammed his surgical left shoulder during the second altercation after Severino plugged Justin Smoak in the bottom of the inning and was not in the Jays lineup Tuesday night.

The Yankees set a club record Monday night when Layne got the save in the 7-5 victory. Layne became the ninth pitcher on the staff to record a save this year. The others are Aroldis Chapman with 20, Dellin Betances with 12, Andrew Miller with nine, Clippard with two and Chad Green, Ivan Nova, Blake Parker and Chasen Shreve with one apiece. Chapman, Miller and Nova have since been traded. The Yanks are the first major league club with nine pitchers earning saves in the same season since the Rays did it in 2009.

Sanchez called up from Triple A

The Yankees could use all the right-handed help they can find against White Sox lefthander Chris Sale (7-0, 1.79 ERA), who was paired against Yankees righthander Luis Severino (0-5, 6.12 ERA) in Friday night’s opener of a three-game series. The Yankees hoped that the weather forecast was accurate that the rain that struck the area late in the afternoon would stop by the scheduled game time of 7:05 p.m.

Toward that end, the Yankees recalled catcher Gary Sanchez from Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and planned to start him as the designated hitter in a different looking lineup put together by manager Joe Girardi.

Brett Gardner, who has been batting leadoff while Jacoby Ellsbury has been out with a hip ailment, was the only left-handed hitter in the batting order and was dropped to seventh. At the top of the order was Aaron Hicks, followed by Starlin Castro and three switch hitters batting righty — Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley. Sanchez was in the 6-hole in front of Gardner with Austin Romine behind the plate batting eighth and Ronald Torreyes at shortstop in the 9-hole.

Sanchez got off to a rough start at SWB but has heated up recently and had a slash line of .288/.336/.541 with 13 runs, 11 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI in 27 games and 111 at-bats. Sanchez was in line to be the backup to regular Yankees catcher Brian McCann but was beaten out for the job in spring training by Romine.

Sale entered the game working on an eight-game winning streak (in eight consecutive starts) dating back to Oct. 2 last year. The Yankees were the last team to beat Sale with a 3-2 victory last Sept. 24 at Yankee Stadium on the strength of a three-run home run by Beltran in the third inning.

The Yankees are the only team this season to end a pitcher’s winning streak of at least eight games. They handed Red Sox lefthander David Price a loss May 7 at the Stadium that stopped his nine-game winning streak (over 11 starts from Sept. 5 last year to May 1 this year). Sale will be the seventh pitcher in the majors this season to take the mound with a winning streak of eight games or longer (of the first six, only Price has had his streak ended).

This marks the only Friday the 13th game on the Yankees’ 2016 schedule, their first Friday the 13th game since a 7-0 victory June 13, 2014 at Oakland. Since 2012, the Yankees are 3-1 on Friday the 13th, with two of their three victories shutouts. The other was a 5-0 victory April 13, 2012 over the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

Yanks & Eovaldi make Price pay the price

Last week at Fenway Park David Price got a winning decision over the Yankees despite allowing six runs. That was due in part to Nathan Eovaldi also giving up six runs to the Red Sox, who went on to an 8-7 victory that finished off Boston’s three-game sweep.

Not this time.

Once again, David Price was stung for six runs by the Yankees, but that was a more efficient Eovaldi on the mound Saturday for the Yankees, whose 8-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 47,822 at Yankee Stadium was Price’s first loss in five decisions this year. Price’s record is good but not his ERA (6.75).

The Yankees need Luis Severino (0-4) to turn things around Sunday night to repay the Red Sox with a sweep of this series.

Eovaldi’s solid eight-inning outing was the latest strong start for the Yankees. Over this past turn in the rotation Yankees starters combined for a 2-1 record with two no-decisions and a 1.80 ERA in 35 innings. Their ERA over the past four games is 1.24. That is why starting pitching is so important. The rotation struggled throughout April but seems to be coming around this month.

Eovaldi allowed six hits, including a home run to Jackie Bradley Jr., but did not walk a batter and struck out six to even his record at 2-2. Walks were a problem for Price. He walked three batters, and each scored. Particularly damaging was a walk to light-hitting Dustin Ackley (.111) in the fourth inning that loaded the bases, which were cleared on a double to right field by Didi Gregorius off a 0-2 pitch.

The next inning, Price walked Aaron Hicks (.132) and Starlin Castro. Both scored on a two-out double by Carlos Beltran that chased Price, whose career mark against the Yankees fell to 14-8 with a 4.34 ERA. Price came into the game with a career record of 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA at the Stadium, but it was not a comfort zone for him Saturday.

It was the ninth time in 33 career games (32 starts) against the Yankees that Price allowed at least five earned runs. Over the past 20 seasons, only two pitchers have given up at least five earned runs to the Yankees more often — Tim Wakefield (12) and Mark Buehrle (10). Also with nine such games were Josh Beckett, Bartolo Colon and Rodrigo Lopez. Price has allowed five or more earned runs in four of his seven starts this year and is 1-1 with a 9.26 ERA in two starts against the Yankees. The Red Sox may be wondering if Price is worth the $217-million contract they gave him.

The bottom third of the lineup was especially productive for the Yankees. Chase Headley, Gregorius and Austin Romine teamed up to go 7-for-11 (.636) with three runs, three doubles and five RBI. Two of the doubles were by Romine, the backup catcher and 9-hole hitter, and each drove a run. In seven starts this season, Romine has batted .381 with three doubles and three RBI in 21 at-bats. He also did a fine job behind the plate in working with Eovaldi, whose ERA when Romine catches is 3.60 in 20 innings and 6.11 in 17 2/3 innings when Brian McCann has caught him.

Headley had two singles and scored two runs in his first multi-hit game in 14 games since April 19. Gregorius improved his career record with the bases loaded to .345 with 23 RBI in 29 at-bats.

It was the largest run output for the Yankees since April 9 at Detroit (also eight runs). This month, the Yankees have scored 26 runs (4.33 per game) and batted .269 with runners in scoring position. Last month, they scored 25 runs (2.27 per game) and hit .174 in the clutch.

Bats come alive, but Yanks drop 5th straight

On a night when the Yankees showed encouraging signs of breaking out of their offensive malaise, their pitchers were responsible for another loss that completed a three-game sweep by the Red Sox at Fenway Park and extended the losing streak to a season-high five games.

The 8-7 final marked the first time in eight games that the Yankees scored more than three runs in a game and only the sixth time in 23 games this year. They were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position and totaled five extra-base hits, including career home run No. 692 for Alex Rodriguez, who has recovered quite nicely from that tweaked oblique last week. After missing two games, A-Rod has batted .429 with four runs, two doubles, two home runs and six RBI in 14 at-bats.

Sunday night’s game was a reversal for the Yankees in that the sluggish offense was not the culprit in a defeat. For the second time in three nights, Dellin Betances gave up a two-run home run in a late inning that supplied the deciding run. Friday night it was David Ortiz’s blast in the eighth on a first-pitch curveball. Sunday night, it was a monster shot to left field that went entirely out of the park by Christian Vazquez on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh.

Betances shouldered the blame for both games, but he certainly was not alone. Starter Nathan Eovaldi, who flirted with a no-hitter in his previous outing, surrendered leads of 3-1 and 6-4 in the bottom half of the innings in which the Yankees had gone ahead. Eovaldi was back to his old ways in giving up 10 hits in five-plus innings.

The loss was charged to Ivan Nova (1-1), who replaced Eovaldi in the sixth after a leadoff walk. Travis Shaw, who clocked a game-tying, two-run home run off Eovaldi in the fifth, singled off Nova with one down in the seventh. Brock Holt followed with a grounder to third baseman Chase Headley, who had trouble removing the ball from his glove as the Yankees were able to get a force at second base but not a double play. Betances then was summoned to pitch to Vazquez and allowed a home run for his third consecutive appearance.

Vazquez’s homer put David Price in position for the winning decision that ran his record with his new club to 4-0. It was not a pretty outing for Price, who raised his career mark against the Yankees to 14-7 despite a 4.17 ERA. The lefthander yielded six earned runs and eight hits in seven innings and heard booing at Fenway Park where he has pitched to an 8.34 ERA in four starts totaling 22 2/3 innings. Since the start of 2014, the Yanks have batted .303 with 17 doubles, four triples and six home runs against Price.

Jacoby Ellsbury’s second double of the game tied the score at 1 in the third inning. Two batters later, Rodriguez launched his fifth home run this season to make it 3-1. The Red Sox moved back ahead, 4-3, in the bottom half on a two-run single by Hanley Ramirez and a two-out, RBI single by Holt.

Rodriguez doubled home two runs in the fifth and scored on a single by Mark Teixeira as the Yankees regained the lead, 6-4. Again, Eovaldi could not hold it in yielding the bomb to Shaw. The Yankees made it a one-run game in the eighth with a run on a wild pitch by Koji Uehara, but that would be as close as they came.

While the Yankees sank deeper in the basement of the American League East with an 8-15 record, the Red Sox took over first place in the division by a half-game over the Orioles, who await the Bombers at Camden Yards for a three-game series that begins Tuesday night.

Bird likes those ducks on the pond

Take heed all you sluggers that refuse to bunt against the shift, especially leading off an inning in a tie game when getting on base is the priority.

It works!

How delightful it was to see Brian McCann push his ego aside and drop a bunt to a practically empty left side of the infield for a leadoff single in the 10th inning Tuesday night. It was a rally starter for the Yankees, and they cashed in later in the inning on a three-run home run by Greg Bird off relief pitcher Mark Lowe.

There was a playoff atmosphere at Rogers Centre where the Yankees got back to 2 1/2 games behind the firt-place Blue Jays in the American League East with the 6-4, 10-inning victory before a packed house of 47,992. Bird’s homer quieted the crowd, which woke up momentarily in the bottom of the 10th on a home run by Edwin Encarnacion.

Bird has homered in three straight games and has 10 homers and 28 RBI in 34 games. The rookie first baseman also doubled. Of his past 17 hits, 13 have been for extra bases (eight home runs and five doubles).

Put people on base in front of Bird and watch out. He is batting .370 with four doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI in 54 at-bats with runners on base compared to .164 with three doubles, two homers and two RBI in 67 at-bats with the bases empty.

It sure would be nice if the Yankees had Masahiro Tanaka available to pitch Wednesday night in the series finale, but the Japanese righthander was scratched because of a hamstring injury with Ivan Nova taking his place against Toronto’s Marcus Stroman.

Luis Severino was not the least bit overwhelmed starting an important game against a team he had faced twice previously and beat him up 11 days ago at Yankee Stadium (six earned runs, six hits, two home runs in 2 1/3 innings).

The rookie did give up the 2-0 lead the Yankees gave him in the first inning, but he held the AL’s most potent lineup to three hits. The 2-3-4 sluggers Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — each with more than 30 home runs this season — were a combined 0-for-7 with two walks.

One of the walks was to Donaldson, who scored the tying run in the sixth on a two-out single by Justin Smoak. The other run off Severino was a solo homer in the third by Kevin Pillar.

Bautista did more damage with his strong right arm than anything else. He killed two Yankees rallies with outfield assists. The right fielder gunned down Dustin Ackley at third base in the seventh on a play that was overturned by a replay challenge after the original call was that the runner was safe.

Even more dramatic was Bautista’s throw in the ninth inning that got Chris Young at the plate. The Yankees had runners on second and third with none out, but the double play foiled things and after a walk to Brett Gardner Alex Rodriguez flied out.

An insurance run or two there would have been a big help in the bottom of the ninth for Andrew Miller, who blew a save for only the second time in 36 opportunities this year when he gave up a one-out home run to Dioner Navarro. The Blue Jays went on to load the bases with two out against Miller, but he struck out Donaldson as the game went into extras.

The Yankees attacked Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada early by scoring twice in the first inning. The suddenly-hot Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by McCann that also sent Rodriguez, who had walked, to third base. Carlos Beltran got A-Rod home with a sacrifice fly. Beltran got an even bigger RBI in the eighth with a solo homer off Liam Hendriks before the ninth-inning turn of events.

Ellsbury doubled twice and is batting .440 in 25 at-bats during his six-game hitting streak. Since the start of 2013, Ellsbury has hit safely in 23 of 25 games at Rogers Centre and reached base on a hit, walk or hit by pitch in all but one. In a 12-game hitting streak at Toronto dating to June 24 last year, Ellsbury is hitting .431 with eight runs, four doubles, two triples, two home runs and eight RBI in 51 at-bats.

Blue Jays lefthander David Price, the winning pitcher Monday night over the Yankees with seven shutout innings, lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.34. He has won 13 games since June 1 and is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA since being traded to Toronto from Detroit. Price, who was 9-4 with the Tigers, is one of four pitchers since 1893 to win at least eight games and had winning records for two different teams in the same season. The other three all pitched for the Yankees during their careers: Hank Borowy, traded by the Yanks to the Cubs in 1945; David Cone, traded by the Blue Jays to the Yanks in 1995 and Bartolo Colon, traded by the Indians to the Expos in 2002. Colon, now with the Mets, pitched for the Yankees in 2011. Since 1980, four other pitchers won at least eight of their first 10 starts with the new team after being acquired by an in-season trade: Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 for the Cubs, Doyle Alexander in 1987 for the Tigers, Randy Johnson in 1998 for the Astros and CC Sabathia in 2008 for the Brewers. The latter three pitched for the Yankees during their careers: Alexander in 1982 and ’83, Johnson in 2005 and ’06 and Sabathia since 2009.

Price is right for Blue Jays

If the Yankees ever get back into first place in the American League East, it will have to be after they leave Toronto. The Blue Jays ensured they will hold the top spot in the division over the duration of the series at Rogers Centre with a 4-2 victory Monday night.

Toronto boosted its division lead to 3 1/2 games (3 in the loss column), which means that even if the Yankees were to win Tuesday and Wednesday nights they would still be in second place upon leaving Canada.

The Yankees ran into David Price, every bit the ace Matt Harvey is to the Mets and moreso. Unlike Harvey, whom the Mets pulled after five innings Sunday night and paid for it when the Yankees pummeled his successors, Price went seven innings and shut out the Bombers on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

There was a time in the eighth inning when it resembled what happened to the Mets in the sixth inning Sunday night at Citi Field as the first three Yankees batters reached base against the shaky Toronto bullpen and put a run across. The turning point may have been a called third strike on Brett Gardner on a pitch at the top of the letters that was borderline to say the least.

Brett Cecil followed that with strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann, which sent the Yankees packing. They got a two-out home run from Greg Bird in the ninth inning off closer Roberto Osuna (17th save) but nothing more in dropping the first game of the series.

In essence, the game came apart for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning when the Blue Jays scored three times off Adam Warren, who recovered nicely but only after the horses had left the barn. Warren started the game with a single, a hit batter and another single for one run, a wild pitch and an infield out for a second run and a double by Justin Smoak for a third run.

That was more than sufficient support for Price, who had merely one challenging inning among his seven. An errant throw by second baseman Cliff Pennington, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a walk to Gardner loaded the bases with one out before Price recovered to strike out Rodriguez and retire McCann on a fly ball to center field.

Those were the first two of 14 consecutive outs by Price, who improved his American League Cy Young Award resume with a 17-5 record, including 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 69 1/3 innings since joining the Blue Jays in a trade from the Tigers. That is the definition of an ace, which is something the Mets and Harvey have to learn.

Toronto takes Round 1 by a knockout

The Blue Jays applied some pressure on the Yankees with a five-homer, 11-5 victory Friday night in the opener of the four-game showdown series at Yankee Stadium. By increasing their lead in the American League East to 2 1/2 games, Toronto put the Yanks in a position of having to win the final three games to knock the Jays out of first place before leaving town after Sunday’s game.

The Blue Jays swept the Yankees in a three-game series at the Stadium in early August and have won five straight games, 10 of their past 15 and 14 of their past 22 games in the Bronx. Toronto, which has an 80-60 overall record, is 35-14 since the All-Star break and 27-9 since the beginning of August. The Jays trailed the Yankees by eight games in the standings July 28 and have made up 10 1/2 games since then.

Luis Severino had his first rough outing for the Yankees. In his first six starts, the rookie righthander did not allow more than three runs in any of them and only a total of two runs in his past three starts covering 18 1/3 innings.

It was a much different story this time as the Blue Jays banged Severino around for five runs and five hits, including four for extra bases, in the first inning. The Yankees were down, 5-0, before about half the people in the Friday night crowd of 40,220 had taken their seats or David Price had taken the mound.

Severino was in trouble immediately as Ben Revere led off with a double, and Josh Donaldson, expanding his AL Most Valuable Player credentials, followed with a home run (No. 38) into the left field bleachers. Severino struck out Jose Bautista but then gave up three straight hits — a double to right-center by Edwin Encarnacio, an RBI single to left by Troy Tulowitzki and a two-run homer to right by Justin Smoak.

Severino seemed to have settled down when he struck out Donaldson and Bautista to strand Revere at second base, but in the third he walked two batters, threw a wild pitch and allowed an RBI single to Russell Martin that prompted manager Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen.

Martin did even more damage in his next two at-bats with a couple of home runs, a solo shot leading off the fifth against Andrew Bailey and a two-run blast in the seventh off Chasen Shreve. Encarnacion also went deep with two out in the fourth off Chris Martin, who was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to the game.

The five home runs were emblematic of the bludgeoning Toronto bats have done to AL pitching this year with 197 homers in 140 games.

The large lead proved beneficial to Price, who was not overwhelming and lasted only five innings. The lefthander gave up two hits, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in improving his overall record to 15-5 with a 2.46 ERA. Price is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA in eight starts totaling 55 1/3 innings since being traded to the Blue Jays from the Tigers.

Four of the Yankees’ runs were driven in by Didi Gregorius with a two-out single off Price in the third inning and a three-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the sixth that cut the margin to 9-5 and had Yankees fans cheering for a change. Martin’s second homer and the fact that the Yankees made their last nine outs in succession spoiled any chance for a comeback..

Yanks back in 1st after ending Jays’ 11-win run

Well now, look who is back in first place?

In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees, who were staring at the possibility of yet another shutout loss to the Blue Jays, kicked over the table with a four-run eighth inning to cool off Toronto before a packed house at Rogers Centre.

The crushing blow for the Yanks came from Carlos Beltran, who came off the bench to bat for Chris Young once lefthander David Price was replaced on the mound by righthander Aaron Sanchez. Beltran, 0-for-3 previously as a pinch hitter, was overmatched by two 97-mph fastballs from Sanchez but in an old-school approach shortened up on the bat and made solid contact with another 97-mph heater for a three-run home run that headed the Yankees toward a 4-3 victory.

The Yankees had runners on base in seven of eight innings against Price but did not put any of them across the plate until the eighth when Chase Headley followed one-out singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann with his second double of the game to end a 33-inning scoreless drought against Toronto pitching. Next came Beltran and soon the Jays’ 11-game winning streak was history.

Not that it went all that smoothly before the Yankees celebrated. Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning, but Andrew Miller did another high-wire act in the ninth as a walk, a single and a wild pitch gave the Blue Jays runners on second and third with one out.

With a sellout crowd of 46,689 in the enclosed Rogers Centre creating a postseason atmosphere, Miller truly earned his 26th save by striking out Ben Revere and Troy Tulowitzki, two of the recently-acquired players through trades that have transformed the Jays into serious contenders.

The Tulowitzki at-bat was a chamber of tension climaxed by his swinging and missing the 12th pitch, a hard-breaking slider. The Blue Jays had been 13-0 in games started by Tulowitzki although the Yankees have handled him for the most part. In four games against the Yankees over the past week, Tulowitzki is 2-for-17 (.118) with one home run and two RBI.

Beltran’s 11th home run of the season made a deserving winner of Ivan Nova (5-4), who had one bad inning, the third, when the Blue Jays had three of their five hits off the righthander and all their runs on a fielder’s choice by Tulowitzki, a double by Jose Bautista and a sacrifice fly by Edwin Encarnacion. Nova gave up only two hits in his other six innings.

So the Yankees take a half-game lead into Saturday’s game at Toronto and are two games up on the Jays in the loss column. What a difference a single inning can make.

Fans contribute to Yankees’ pain

The Yankees are having a tough enough time these days without the fans making it harder for them. After suffering their second straight shutout loss Sunday to complete a three-game sweep by the surging Blue Jays, the Yankees watched their first-place hold in the American League East dwindle to 1 1/2 games to Toronto, which remains three games behind in the loss column.

Make no mistake, however. The race in the division has tightened up to a degree that the Yankees could not have expected 12 days ago when they had a seven-game lead and were eight games up on the Jays, then in third place. The additions of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price before the non-waiver trade deadline last month were serious upgrades for Toronto, which the Yanks witnessed first hand during this lost weekend.

And in Sunday’s 2-0 setback they took their lumps literally as well as figuratively. In the first inning after Josh Donaldson hit a long home run to left field off Masahiro Tanaka, a fan threw the ball back onto the field and struck left fielder Brett Gardner on the right side of his head.

“Not at all,” Gardner said when asked if he was upset. “Don’t care. I was just lucky the guy who threw it wasn’t as close as the second row.”

This tradition of tossing back onto the field opponents’ home runs began at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in the 1980s and has been part of the Yankee Stadium experience as well for some time. I must admit that it never made any sense to me. If I were to catch a home run ball in the stands, I would not throw it back onto the field. I would keep it and bring it home to my kids. Why honor a tradition that began with a franchise that has not won a World Series for more than 100 years?

Gardner was kind not to make a big deal out of it. In fact, he even said the fans were correct in getting on him because neither he nor teammate Jacoby Ellsbury did very much at the top of the order in this series. They were a combined 2-for-23 (both hits were singles by Gardner) with two walks and no runs scored in the series.

Less accepting of fans’ behavior was first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was still annoyed after the game that a fan in the box seats interfered with him as he tried to catch a foul ball by Blue Jays designated hitter Chris Colabello in the ninth inning. Colabello eventually struck out, but Tex was still sore about the situation.

“Tell the fans they can insult but not assault,” he said. “I know we just lost three games, and we’re sorry about that. But, please, no assaults, just insults.”

It was that kind of series for the Yankees, who scored only one run in the three games, none in the last two and are in a scoreless streak that has reached 26 innings, their longest in 24 years. The last time the Yankees went this long without scoring was back in the Stump Merrill days of May 15-18, 1991, a stretch of 32 blank innings.

The Yankees were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 12-13, 1999 against the Angels and had played 2,665 games between the consecutive shutout streaks, the longest stretch of not being shut out in back-to–back games in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Yankees began the homestand last Tuesday night with a 13-3 victory over the Red Sox. They scored only four runs in their next 45 innings.

“Just a bump in the road,” Teixeira said.

It was actually more like an enormous pothole. The Yankees wasted several strong pitching performances, including Tanaka’s six-inning stint Sunday in which he allowed three hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Unfortunately, two of the hits were home runs. Joining Donaldson was Jose Bautista with a solo blast in the fourth. The Jays out-homered the Yanks in the series, 6-1.

“It is never a good thing to get swept at home by the team that is chasing you,” Gardner said. “We’ll try to have a short-term memory, regroup on the off-day [Monday] and get back to our game in Cleveland. There are still another six or seven weeks left in the season.”

The Yankees found out over the weekend the rest of the season will be more challenging than they may have realized not that long ago.

Jays continue to flex muscles against Yanks

The Blue Jays are not exactly breathing down the Yankees’ necks, but Toronto has certainly made its presence felt in the American League East race this weekend at Yankee Stadium. As recently as July 28, the Yankees had a seven-game lead in the division. After Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the Jays, the Yanks’ spread is down to 2 1/2 games.

Yes, they are four games up on Toronto in the loss column, which is one consolation, but they have been no match for the Jays’ muscle. The recent offensive slump continued against lefthander David Price, whom they had beaten up twice earlier this season (30.86 ERA in 2 1/3 innings) but who was flawless Saturday with seven brilliant innings (three hits, three walks, seven strikeouts).

The Yankees suffered their fourth shutout loss of the season and ended a stretch of nine non-losing series. They had not lost a series since June 29-July 1 when they dropped two of three games to the Angels at Anaheim. The Yanks are 2-6 against the Jays this year and have lost the first three series between them. There is still plenty of baseball left for these clubs against each other. They will meet up again next weekend at Toronto and seven more times in September.

“There is a long way to go,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted after the game. “I called this an important series before it started, but we have two months to go so you can’t get overly concerned about two games.”

Nevertheless, Girardi added that Masahiro Tanaka needs to come up big Sunday against Toronto righthander Marco Estrada as well as an offense that has disappeared during this homestand. Since exploding for 13 runs against the Red Sox to open the homestand five days ago, the Yankees have scored four runs in their past 37 innings and none in their past 17. They are hitless in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position over the past four games, three of them losses.

Ivan Nova was coasting along for five innings matching Price in putting up zeroes until it all came apart in the sixth. Two walks around a single by Jose Bautista, who won Friday night’s game with a 10th-inning home run, filled the bases for Justin Smoak, who belted a 0-1 pitch to right field for his first career grand slam.

Girardi had Adam Warren in the bullpen but counted on Nova’s sinker to get a much-needed ground ball, but the two-seamer had lost its effectiveness by then. Newcomer Troy Tulowitzki was 0-for-7 in the series before he connected in the seventh off Bryan Mitchell for a solo home run.

An error by second baseman Brendan Ryan led to an unearned run in the eighth on a two-out, RBI infield single by Russell Martin, the only one of Toronto’s eight runs in the series that was not the result of a home run.

An 0-for-4 by Mark Teixeira ended his stretch of 24 consecutive games in which he reached base. The Yankees had only five base runners in the game and failed to homer for the first time in 13 games.

Emphasizing the obvious, Girardi said, “We have to start swinging the bats.”