Saturday, September 29, 2012
Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2
TORONTO -- Ricky Romero's disappointing season ended painfully.
Adeiny Hechavarria doubled home the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-2 on Saturday, trimming New York's lead atop the AL East to half a game.
New York could fall into a first place tie with Baltimore if the Orioles beat Boston at home later Saturday.
Romero left after three innings because of a sore left knee, completing a year in which the 2011 All-Star went through a 15-start winless streak that included 13 straight losing decisions.
Manager John Farrell and assistant trainer Hap Hudson came to the mound after Romero missed high on a 2-2 pitch to Andruw Jones in the third and hopped around the mound in pain. After a few practice pitches, Romero stayed in the game to strike out Jones, then escaped a bases-loaded jam when Eduardo Nunez lined out sharply to Hechavarria at second.
Farrell said Romero wanted to come back for the fourth, but the manager had other ideas.
"It was clear that it wasn't something that we were going to push," Farrell said.
Romero, who did not speak to reporters, left the stadium to undergo additional tests. He allowed two runs and three hits, boosting his ERA to 5.77, highest among qualified AL starters. He also walked two, giving him an AL-high 105 walks.
Shawn Hill (1-0) replaced Romero and, in the first relief appearance of his career, earned the win with three shutout innings.
In all, five Toronto pitchers combined to work six scoreless innings. Casey Janssen closed it out for his 21st save in 24 chances.
"An outstanding job by the bullpen today," Farrell said. "Shawn Hill gave us a huge lift."
Toronto's Rajai Davis homered and had three hits as the Blue Jays heaped more pressure on the Yankees, who wasted several opportunities early. New York went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
"We had chances to blow that game open and we didn't," Joe Girardi said. "You look at the opportunities that you have and you say `We could have a pretty big lead here,' but we didn't do it."
New York's only hits with runners in scoring position were both singles, and neither brought home a run.
"We had some opportunities tonight, couldn't make it happen," Nick Swisher said. "It's not like we're going to get down on ourselves. We've got to keep pushing, come back here (Sunday) with a fire."
Still, even Swisher conceded that New York's margin for error is running low with just four games remaining.
"(Sunday) is going to be a must win," he said. "We put ourselves in this situation, our destiny is in our own hands and we've got to go out and take it. No one is going to give us anything."
Andy Pettitte's stretch of 11 scoreless innings since his return from a broken lower left leg was halted in the first when Davis hit a one-out solo homer to left, his eighth.
Davis had hits in his first three at bats after a 4-for-4 night Friday, giving him seven straight hits before he struck out in the seventh.
The Yankees loaded the bases twice in the first inning but managed just a pair of sacrifice flies by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
New York loaded the bases again in the third but came up empty when Hechavarria made a diving catch on Nunez's liner for the third out.
Toronto tied it in the fifth when Jeff Mathis led off with a double, took third on a fly and scored on a two-out infield single by Davis.
Davis' bouncer up the third base line appeared to be headed foul. Alex Rodriguez, who was playing in to guard against the bunt, fielded it but his throw to first was late.
"In hindsight, I think it would have gone foul," Rodriguez said. "With Rajai running, it's kind of a split-second decision. I took my chances."
The Blue Jays chased Pettitte (5-4) and took a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Yunel Escobar walked, Yan Gomes reached on a bunt single and Moises Sierra flied out before Mathis hit another deep drive, with Granderson making a running catch on the warning track.
Joba Chamberlain came on to face Hechavarria, who doubled off the wall in right, scoring Escobar. Gomes went too far around third on the play and was thrown out, killing Toronto's rally.
Pettitte allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Derek Jeter started at designated hitter with Nunez at shortstop, but Jeter moved to shortstop in the sixth. Girardi, who had hoped to get Jeter a day off the turf, said the move was made for defensive reasons.
NOTES: Yankees INF Jayson Nix returned to New York for an MRI on his injured left hip, leaving Nunez as the team's primary backup infielder. ... Hechavarria extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Tony Fernandez, Adam Lind, Rance Mulliniks and Paul Molitor jointly hold Toronto's club record with hits in eight consecutive at-bats. ... Hill is the 54th player used by Toronto this season, a club record. ... Attendance was 36,139, putting the Blue Jays over 2 million for the first time since 2008. Toronto has four home dates remaining.