- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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TORONTO -- OK, losing two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays at their dome is understandable.
But losing two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays? Not acceptable, anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances.
And especially when wins are as important as they are to the Yankees right now.
With their 7-2 loss to the Jays tonight -- a game that was over practically before it started -- the Yankees drop to 5½ games out in the AL wild-card race with just 29 left to play. And, needless to say, the games against teams like the Blue Jays are the ones they absolutely, positively have to win if they are ever going to close that gap.
A deck without an ace.
Hiroki Corroding?: After allowing seven runs in his last outing, Kuroda was nicked for four in the first inning tonight, and seven overall, though only five were earned. Through his first 24 starts of the season, Kuroda's ERA was 2.33. Over his past three, it is 8.09 (15 ER in 16⅔ IP).
Two-run strikeout: Here's something you don't see every day -- a strikeout that results in two runs scored and no one retired. With runners on first and second and one out, Kuroda threw a third strike past both catchers on the same pitch -- Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia at the plate, and his own, Chris Stewart, behind it. The passed ball allowed Brett Lawrie (double) to score from second, and Stewart's throw to first went awry, allowing Rajai Davis (walk) to score from first.
HRoki is back: Kuroda gave up a career-high four home runs in his last outing against the Rays and gave up another one, a bomb by Edwin Encarnacion, in the second inning with a man on to increase the Jays' lead to 6-0.
A-Clutch: Alex Rodriguez delivered an RBI single, just the Yankees' second hit of the game, in the fourth inning to put the Yankees on the board 7-1.
A-Plod: One batter later, A-Rod inexplicably tried to score from first on Mark Reynolds' double and was thrown out easily at the plate, shortening what could have been a big inning for the Yankees.
Robbie Who?: Filling in at second base, a position he had not played regularly for more than seven years, Reynolds did quite well, especially on a diving stop on Jose Reyes' grounder in the sixth. He also had three hits, including the RBI double on which A-Rod got thrown out at the plate.
What's next: A flight home, followed by a day off before the Yankees plunge into a stretch of 17 straight games -- the next nine of which are at home -- starting with three against the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend. The Incomparable One, Andrew Marchand, will have you covered on the off day. I'll see you all next week.