The Toronto Blue Jays were again unable to capitalize on their run-scoring opportunities, and a shaky performance from the pitching staff allowed the New York Yankees to take the series sweep with a 6-4 win.
W: David Phelps (3-4, 4.13ERA)
L: Drew Hutchison (5-5, 3.86ERA)
S: Adam Warren (2)
The New York Yankees lead, like the game itself, moved away from the Blue Jays at a glacial pace. The Yankees scored on sacrifice flies in each of the first three innings, part of their six single-run innings, and did not truly begin to pull away from the Blue Jays until later in the game, despite their steady stream of base runners. The Blue Jays often seemed out of rhythm in all phases, and too often tried to consciously force the game before letting it develop in front of them. The days of choreographed outfield dances remain shrinking in the rear-view mirror following a sweep at the hands of the 2nd-place Yankees.
Drew Hutchison struggled early and often, continuing his hot-and-cold play over the past month. Hutchison lasted just 4.1IP, allowing 4ER to go along with 6H and 4BB. Although he received no favours from an inconsistent strike zone, he failed to spot his fastball regularly, and was unable to put hitters away when given the opportunity. The New York Yankees seemed to hold the first move at the plate tonight, and did not appear surprised by any of Drew Hutchison’s offerings. Aaron Loup and Dustin McGowan followed Hutchison out of the bullpen prior to another worrying outing from the recently-recalled Steve Delabar (0.2IP,, 1ER 1H, 3BB).
Yankees starter David Phelps, on the other hand, remained in control throughout each of his 7IP, allowing 2ER while scattering 6H and striking out 7. Phelps pitched efficiently, consistently pounding the strike zone and working the Jays hitters hard and inside. His lone blemish came on a 2 run HR off the bat of Melky Cabrera (2-4, HR, 2RBI), who went deep over the right field porch in the third inning. The Blue Jays offence came to life briefly again in the 8th inning with a long Home Run from Edwin Encarnacion (2-4, HR, 2RBI), whose re-awakening could be an inspiring sight for Jays fans to take away from New York. Poor situational hitting and mental mistakes held the Blue Jays from getting over the top again, however, with Melky Cabrera getting picked off at second base in the first inning with 1 out, and Jose Reyes failing to cash in Colby Rasmus from third base with only one away in the 5th.
Brett Lawrie‘s absence was evident tonight, as the Blue Jays struggled to get production from their bottom half, and looked unnatural in the field several times. Steve Tolleson bobbled a sure double-play ball early in the game, prolonging an inning which resulted in a Yankees run, while Juan Francisco whiffed on a bare-handed attempt on a slow roller in the 1st. Francisco’s meteoric rise appears to be well into it’s descent, as he owned a slash line of .143/.189/.371 over his last 15 games entering tonight’s contest, and he continues to be dominated by any pitch that is not straight and flat. Unfortunately for Juan Francisco, those pitches happen quite often in baseball.
The sweepers have become the swept for the first time this season, which is inevitable over the course of a long year. Despite the downward trend, however, the Blue Jays sit at 41-33 with a 1.5 game lead in the AL East. Nearly two-thirds of the way through what has seemed like a dreadful June, their record for the month still sits at 8-9. Is June’s performance a more accurate portrayal of the 2014 Blue Jays, or has the recent stretch been nothing more than the cyclical nature of baseball?
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, the scores click back to zeros tomorrow night when the Blue Jays travel to Great America Ballpark, where they’ll take on the Cincinnati Reds at 7:10PM ET. Liam Hendriks (1-0, 2.31) will take R.A. Dickey‘s spot (who has been pushed back) in the rotation tomorrow, and face off against Mat Latos (0-0, 0.00ERA), who is making his second start of the season following a return from the DL with an elbow injury.