Results tagged ‘ Jose Bautista ’

Yankees’ offense has completely stalled

The Yankees cannot say they have not gotten help elsewhere in the American League wild card race. Now they have to start helping themselves.

Friday night, the Angels scored six runs in the ninth inning to stun the Astros, 10-6. Saturday, the Royals scored five runs in the ninth inning to upend the Tigers, 7-4. These results were music to the Yankees’ ears because the losers were clubs in front of them in the wild card hunt.

So what did the Yanks do for themselves? Absolutely nothing.

They failed to score either night and have now been shut out in three straight games for the first time in 41 seasons. The 1975 Yankees did not make it to postseason play, either, although there was no wild card entry in those days.

The Yanks did not lose ground because of Detroit’s loss, but they wasted an opportunity to gain ground rather than stay four games behind the Tigers with the 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, who have a firm grip on the first wild card spot. Furthermore, the Yankees lost another day on the schedule and wasted a strong start from CC Sabathia, who remained winless in six starts since his most recent victory Aug. 23 but not for lack of effort. He has pitched to a 2.83 ERA over that period but all he has to show for it are two losses and four no-decisions.

Sabathia matched Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman in throwing zeroes for seven innings. The lefthander scattered four hits and three walks and had only two strikeouts, which was fine because it prevented his pitch count (91) from being an issue.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi reacted sharply to reporters who questioned his bullpen usage in the previous game when he let Blake Parker pitch with a 3-0 deficit and watched it soar to 7-0. Where was Adam Warren or Tyler Clippard, some writers wanted to know, in the late innings of a three-run game?

Well, there was Clippard (3-5) in the eighth inning of a tie game Saturday, and what was the result? He got two quick groundouts before Josh Donaldson singled in front of Brett Gardner playing no-doubles defense in left field.

A wild pitch put Donaldson in scoring position. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Clippard fell behind 2-0 to Jose Bautista and came in with a fastball that was crushed to left field for the only runs of the game.

On the Yankees side, there was more anemic offense. They had three hits, one of which was a two-out triple by Ronald Torreyes that threatened to end the scoreless streak, but Jason Grilli (7-5) struck out pinch hitter Billy Butler.

The Yankees have gone 27 innings without scoring and are hitless in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position over that stretch. Other contending clubs have opened lanes for them, but the Yankees continue to stand still

Zeroes follow Yankees from Florida to Canada

At a time when losing is not an option, the Yankees suddenly cannot score. Their precarious position in the chase for an American League wild card slot only grew worse with their second straight shutout loss Thursday night on a long trip that now seems headed for nowhere.

One night after losing a 2-0 game to Tampa Bay when they left 11 runners on base, the Yankees had only seven base runners total in a 9-0 bashing by the Blue Jays. The Yankees had merely three hits in the game, and if not for the phenomenon called Gary Sanchez they would have had only one hit. Sanchez doubled and singled to jeep his torrid hitting going, but he could use company if the Yankees want to move into serious contention.

The loss made it official that the Yanks cannot win the AL East division title as they were eliminated. The Red Sox, who won again to extend their winning streak to nine games, are pretty close to wrapping up the division. Boston has a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto with eight games remaining.

So the wild card is the Yanks’ only remaining playoffs entry, and they are still at the bottom of a six-club scrum. The Blue Jays maintained their lead for the first wild card berth, and the Yankees are behind the Tigers, Orioles, Astros and Mariners for the second position. 

The Yankees’ series is a hot ticket in Toronto with 47,016 people in attendance at Rogers Centre Thursday, but there was nothing hot about Yankees’ bats. They threatened with two outs in the first inning against lefthander Francisco Liriano (8-13) on the Sanchez double and two walks, but Chase Headley struck out.

An error by Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and a single by Jacoby Ellsbury was a promising start to the third inning, but Sanchez flied out to deep center, Billy Butler struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out.

After that, the Yankees had only two base runners with neither getting beyond first base.

Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell gave up three runs, but only one was earned due to an error by Butler at first base. Mitchell also hurt himself in his six-inning stint with four walks, one of which forced in a run.

The Jays unloaded on the Yankees’ bullpen with four runs in the seventh inning against Blake Parker on a two-run double by Jose Bautista and Tulowitzki’s second two-run single of the game. The next inning, Ben Heller was burned on a double by Devon Travis and a two-run homer by Josh Donaldson.

Heller then drew a warning from plate umpire Tom Hallion after hitting Bautista with a 0-2 pitch. I have no idea what Hallion was thinking. Heller had control problems throughout the inning, and the pitch that struck Bautista was a breaking ball. It was a case of a rookie pitcher struggling and not some sort of headhunting.

It was a loss that underscored two troubling issues for the Yankees this year — their play in games started by lefthanders and within their division. The loss dropped the Yanks’ record to 21-26 against lefty starters and 30-37 against AL East opponents.

It was also the Yankees’ sixth straight loss at Rogers Centre, their longest losing streak in that building in 23 years. Earlier this month, the Yankees began their stretch run by getting their first three-game sweep of the season, over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. They have to find a way to regain that momentum.

Memorial Day weekend a draw for Yankees

The Memorial Day weekend was a push for the Yankees as they went 2-2. They took two of three games from the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and dropped the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Centre in Toronto Monday night. The road has been kinder recently to the Yankees, who have won seven of their past nine games away from home after having lost 12 of their first 16 road games.

The Blue Jays series continues tonight on the last day of May with one of the month’s hottest pitchers starting for the Yanks.

CC Sabathia gets the call opposite fellow lefthander J.A. Happ, who beat the Yankees last Thursday at Yankee Stadium despite Sabathia having allowed two unearned runs, two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Happ was equally tough with seven innings of one-run, three-hit, three-walk, five-strikeout pitching.

Sabathia leads the major leagues in earned run average this month with 0.45 for pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched and has the lowest WHIP (0.75) in the American League in May. Sabathia’s season ERA of 2.83 is the latest in a season he has held an ERA that low since Aug. 6, 2011 when it was 2.81 ERA after 25 starts. In last Thursday’s start, CC was the first Yankees starter to take a loss without allowing an earned run since Shane Greene Sept. 9, 2014 against the Royals.

The lefthander has pitched six or more innings and allowed three or fewer hits in each of his last two starts. With 2,610 career strikeouts, Sabathia is tied with Chuck Finley for 23rd place on the all-time list. In 22nd place is former Yankees pitcher David Cone at 2,668.

Yankees pitchers have held both right fielder Jose Bautista and designated hitter-first baseman Edwin Encarnacion homerless through a combined 58 plate appearances this year after the pair banged 21 home runs (in 284 plate appearances) off them over the previous two seasons. Bautista (13) and Encarnacion (8) ranked first and tied for third, respectively, in homers against the Yankees over the 2014 and ’15 seasons (2014-15).

The Yankees will stop in Detroit Thursday for a 7:40 p.m. game to make up a game that was postponed April 10 because of the geniuses at ESPN who thought scheduling a Sunday Night Baseball game in Detroit in early April was a smart idea. This will be the Yankees’ first one-game series since Aug. 25, 2014 at Kansas City, when they made up a June 9, 2014 rainout at Kauffman Stadium. That make-up game preceded a scheduled six-game road trip, which coincidentally included three-game series at Detroit and Toronto. In that makeup game, RHP Michael Pineda – who will also start Thursday night at Comerica Park – allowed one run over six innings in the Yankees’ 8-1 victory over the Royals

Yanks, Jays going in opposite directions

The team that zoomed past the Yankees last year to the American League East title is moving past them in a different direction this year. The Blue Jays have replaced the Yankees in last place in the division. The Yanks climbed out of the cellar over the weekend in Oakland and have fought back to the .500 mark (22-22) with the 6-0 victory Tuesday night over a Jays team that is not scoring in bunches as it did a year ago.

The Yankees’ stretch of first-rate starting pitching during the six-game winning streak that has pushed them into third place in the AL East continued with Nathan Eovaldi (5-2) shutting out the Blue Jays on two hits in six-plus innings with three walks and five strikeouts in winning his fourth consecutive start and extending his streak of winning decisions to five.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.16 ERA over his past four starts and a 2.92 ERA over his past six starts as his season ERA has dropped from 6.11 to 3.95. Relievers Dellin Betances, Kirby Yates and Luis Cessa held Toronto hitless over the final three innings. During the winning streak, Yankees pitchers have a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings. Opponents are batting only .148 in 189 at-bats off Yankees pitching in the past six games.

Eovaldi ran his streak of consecutive batters retired to 22 before Troy Tulowitzki’s one-out single in the second inning. The righthander also retired 12 batters in a row from the first out in the third through the final out of the sixth. Since allowing a leadoff double in the first inning May 18 at Phoenix, Eovaldi has set down 36 of 41 batters faced.

The Yankees’ offense could not be slowed down even in the throes of having to face a knuckleballer. They jumped on R.A. Dickey (2-6) early with a run in the first inning. As it turned out, that was all the scoring they needed.

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista, the most powerful leadoff hitter in the major leagues, helped the Yankees to that run in the first with a poor decision to dive for a Jacoby Ellsbury line drive that ended up rolling to the wall for a leadoff triple. A walk and a strikeout later, Carlos Beltran beat out a play at first to avoid being doubled up as Ellsbury scored.

Beltran, the Yankees’ hottest hitter of late, got a more legitimate RBI in the fourth with his 10th home run. He also walked and scored in the Yankees’ two-run eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley. Didi Gregorius singled in the second run.

Dickey was gone by then. He was chased in the seventh after giving up an RBI double to Austin Romine. Ellsbury greeted reliever Joe Biagini with a run-scoring single.

Beltran started off the brief homestand as well as he finished off the two-city trip in which he batted .407 with three runs, five doubles, one homer and nine RBI in seven games and 27 at-bats. In nine games since May 15, Beltran has hit .394 with seven runs, five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 33 at-bats.

Nova still adapting to reliever’s role

The invincibility of the Yankees’ bullpen took a hit Wednesday night due mainly because of a pitcher not used to working in relief. In his previous appearance a week ago at Yankee Stadium, Ivan Nova earned his first career save with four shutout innings against the Astros.

So Yankees manager Joe Girardi had every reason to believe that they could remain within a run’s reach of the Blue Jays when he brought in Nova to hold them down in the eighth inning after Mark Teixeira’s third home run of the season had cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2. Nova, who was beaten out in the spring for a spot in the rotation by CC Sabathia, had a miserable time of it in yielding four runs as the Jays pulled away for a 7-2 victory.

“It’s different for him.” Girardi said about Nova’s new role, “but we need him to get outs.”

Toronto scored a run before Nova got an out that inning on doubles by Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. The two-base hit was big for the Jays, who have not homered in either game of the series but lashed out six doubles Wednesday night, including two by 9-hole hitter Ryan Goins, who had three hits and two RBI. After getting Edwin Encarnacion out on a ground ball, Nova gave up an RBI single to Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Saunders’ second double of the game on a late swing against the shift.

Russell Martin knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the second out, but Nova hit Justin Smoak in the foot with a pitch and gave up a run-scoring single to Goins. The four runs allowed by Nova raised his ERA from 0.00 to 7.20 and that of the overall bullpen from a league-best 0.84 to 2.31.

Michael Pineda got through six innings but threw 105 innings and was uncharacteristically wild with three walks. Goins’ first double with two out in the second put Toronto ahead. After tying the score in the fifth against J.A. Happ on a double by Ronald Torreys, a single by Austin Romine and an infield out, an errant throw by Torreys, who played shortstop with Didi Gregorius getting a night off, opened the door for two Toronto runs. Smoak scored on the wild throw, and Goins came home as Donaldson grounded into a double play.

Kirby Yates pitched a shutout seventh with two strikeouts to extend the bullpen’s scoreless string to 7 1/3 innings before Nova came unglued in the eighth.

Bullpen’s four hitless innings bail out Tanaka

The first meeting between the top offenses in the American League last year turned out to be a pitcher’s game. The Blue Jaus, who overcame the Yankees to win the AL East title in 2015, could not overcome the Yanks’ bullpen Tuesday night.

After Masahiro Tanaka struggled through five innings, four Yankees relievers were lights out in a 3-2 victory at Rogers Centre. Tanaka allowed only two runs and three hits, but four walks along with six strikeouts shot up his pitch count as once again a Yankees starter did not get past the sixth inning. The bullpen is doing a yeoman’s job, but it can’t pitch four innings per game without wearing down.

Johnny Barbato got his first major league victory. After pitching a shutout sixth inning, Barbato benefit from the Yankees unlocking a 2-2 score in the seventh on a bloop single by Jacoby Ellsbury, who atoned for his wayward tracking of a drive by Jose Bautista in the third that became a two-run double.

Chasen Shreve got the first two outs of the seventh before walking Josh Donaldson, who stole second base against Dellin Betances, but the 6-for-8 righthander got the last laugh with a strikeout of Bautista on a full-count breaking ball. Betances got two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 eighth before turning matters over to Andrew Miller, who added a perfect ninth with two more punchouts.

The quartet of Yankees relievers combined for four hitless innings with five strikeouts against the league’s most dangerous lineup. As for the offense, it used some small ball to manufacture the deciding run. After a leadoff single by Chase Headley in the seventh off Brett Cecil and a walk to Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius’ perfect sacrifice bunt set it up for Ellsbury, who dunked a single into left field.

Also in the middle of the action much of the night was Brian McCann. The catcher did his usual solid job behind the plate and took a hard foul ball off his left foot in the fifth inning that left him hobbling the rest of the night. Fortunately, Mac did not have to run hard in his at-bat in the sixth because he got all of a 3-2 fastball all from Alex Sanchez for a home run to right field that tied the score. McCann had scored the Yankees’ first run in the second inning. He was on second base when Sanchez treated him like Rickey Henderson by trying to pick him off only to throw the ball into center field. Mac scored from third on an infield out by Castro, who picked up his ninth RBI in his sixth game. McCann was on base again in the eighth with a single and limped to third base on one of Headley’s two hits. Mac finally came out of the game in the bottom of the ninth as Austin Romine took over back of the plate.

Blood had to be drained from McCann’s foot. He was to get x-rays after the game. The Yankees cannot afford to lose him for any length of time.

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.

Wild card looms as AL East slipping from Yanks’ grasp

Scoreboard watchers among Yankees fans may want to pay more attention to what the Rangers, Twins and Angels are doing than to the Blue Jays. Toronto’s doubleheader sweep Saturday left the Yankees 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Jays in the American League East. There is still plenty of baseball left — 21 games for the Yankees, including three at Toronto in two weeks — but more and more it appears their path to postseason play may have to be through the wild card.

Texas and Minnesota are actually closer to the Yankees in the wild card race than the Yanks are to Toronto in the AL East. They have the wild-card lead by three games over the Rangers and four over the Twins. The Angels are six games back of the Yanks.

As if there were not enough baseball in store at Yankee Stadium, the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader went into extra innings. The second game also took more than four hours to complete due to a 33-minute rain delay.

The lone star of the day for the Yankee was Brett Gardner, who was 4-for-9 with three home runs and seven RBI. Two of the homers and six of the RBI were in the nightcap, a 10-7 loss in which the Yankees fell behind by six runs early and cut the deficit in half twice only to fall short.

In what was a home run derby in the opener for much of regulation, the winning rally for Toronto in the 11th inning was a quiet one. The Blue Jays batted around with 10 hitters coming to the plate and only two balls were put into play. Nevertheless, Toronto came away with four runs and a 9-5 victory.

It turned out to be perhaps the ugliest inning the Yankees played this year. After Andrew Miller pitched two scoreless inning with four strikeouts but the Yankees failed to score, Bryan Mitchell started the 11th and loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. The hit by pitch came between the walks and on a 1-2 pitch to Cliff Pennington, who had flubbed two sacrifice attempts.

After Mitchell struck out Dioner Navarro, Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought in Chasen Shreve, who had a nightmare of an outing — a walk to pinch hitter Russell Martin, a single to Ben Revere, the only hit of the inning, and two more bases-loaded walks to Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. The crowd of 46,278 was stunned.

The Yankees got the home run derby started against Blue Jays started Marco Estrada with solo shots by Gardner in the first and Chase Headley in the second and a two-run, opposite-field blast by Alex Rodriguez in the fourth.

Michael Pineda blew a 4-1 lead as the Blue Jays, who hit five home runs Friday night, tied the score in the fifth on a leadoff homer by Revere and a two-run bomb by Edwin Encarnacion following a walk to Bautista, who had homered in the fourth.

Bautista crushed his second homer of the game leading off the eighth against Betances, a booming drive to dead center off the Monument Park screen to put the Jays in front for the first time in the game. The Yankees tied the score in the bottom half on an RBI single by Brian McCann, but with the bases loaded Headley and Greg Bird could not get the ball out of the infield.

The situation did not improve much for the Yankees in the second game, a rain-soaked affair in which Ivan Nova struggled mightily with his control and put them in a 6-0 hole in the second inning.

Pennington, pressed into duty with the injury to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, smashed a three-run homer that inning. Nova also gave up five other hits, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches before he was mercifully removed.

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..

Sun-aided hit puts shadow on Severino outing

Carlos Beltran, who played key roles in the Yankees’ victories at Toronto Friday night and Saturday, was at the center of a negative situation in the third inning Sunday. His failure to catch a fly ball to right field kept the inning alive for the Blue Jays, who went on to score three runs.

Beltran lost Troy Tulowitzki’s drive in the glaring sun at Rogers Centre with the roof open as the ball glanced off his left hip. It was originally ruled an error by official scorer Marie-Claude Pelland-Marcotte, who eventually reversed her decision and credited Tulowitzki with a double.

The scoring change had a major effect on Luis Severino’s pitching line. After the Beltran play, which occurred with two out, Severino gave up a single to Josh Donaldson that scored the game’s first run and a long home run to center field by Jose Bautista (No. 28) for two more runs. Donaldson’s hit was the only one in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position for the Blue Jays in the series.

Had Pelland-Marcotte not reversed her ruling, all the runs against Severino’s record would have been unearned. Instead, they were earned and in my opinion deservedly so.

Such a play is an example of an age-old argument about who is responsible for a hitter reaching base in that circumstance. Talk about creating a team error for such situations has been going on since at least the 1960s, but Major League Baseball has always been reluctant to make any change. And for good reason, I say. Official scoring rules dictate that responsibility for base movement falls on an individual pitcher or fielder. That is an essential part of scoring a baseball game. A team error would be a copout for an indecisive scorer.

Fact is, it would be unfair to charge Beltran with an error when the elements made it impossible to see the ball. Such plays have been called hits regularly. The argument that Severino should not be penalized because he gave up a routine fly ball does not wash because the sun made it uncatchable. He still needs to get a third out and compounded the situation by giving up run-scoring hits to the next two batters. Those runs looked pretty earned to me. (One scoring rule that really irks me is when a pitcher is not charged with an earned run because of an error when it was he who made the error.)

Severino certainly recovered from that damaging inning and gave up only one hit and two walks with six of his nine strikeouts from the fourth through the sixth. The Yankees also got quality relief work by Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren but did not overcome what happened in the third inning.

The final was 3-1 Toronto with the Yankees’ only run coming on a solo home run in the sixth by Jacoby Ellsbury, who showed signs of coming out of a prolonged slump with a 5-for-14 (.357) series with a triple, a home run and two RBI.

So for all the strong work Severino has shown in his three starts he remains winless (0-2) despite a 3.18 ERA. On the other hand, Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison has a 12-2 record despite a 5.06 ERA. Hutchison has benefit from the largest run support of any starter in the American League (more than seven runs per game), although he did not have a bunch of runs to work with Sunday. The righthander limited the Yankees to two hits other than the Ellsbury homer and one walk with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Winning two of the three games in Toronto took some of the sting out of being swept at home last weekend by the Blue Jays for the Yankees, who come home back in first place in the AL Ease by a half-game over the Blue Jays. These teams will face each other seven more times in September, so nothing definitive would have been settled this weekend anyway.

Yet even in losing four of the six games to the Jays over the past two weekends the Yankees displayed effective pitching with a 2.67 ERA over 54 innings against the majors’ most productive offense, an extremely positive development.