Seth Wenig/the Associated Press The Jays’ Anthony Gose heads for first Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in his first big league at-bat, a groundout to shortstop Derek Jeter.
NEW YORK—If this critical six-game road trip through New York and Boston is to be season-defining for the Blue Jays — as manager John Farrell said it might — fans may have to grow accustomed to nights like Tuesday’s.
The team’s injury woes and depleted pitching staff were on full display at Yankee Stadium as the Jays lost their second in a row to New York, falling 6-1 in front of an announced crowd of 44,975.
A day after losing Jose Bautista, their best player and one of two primary run-producers, for at least the next two weeks, the Jays could not mount much of an offence and were held off the board until the eighth inning.
Meanwhile, lefty Brett Cecil, who couldn’t crack the Jays’ staff out of spring training but was brought in to bolster the club’s injury-riddled rotation, gave up six hits and two walks, including a three-run home run to Andruw Jones in the second inning, granting the patient Yankee hitters a lead they would not relinquish.
Hard-throwing lefty CC Sabathia, in his first start since coming off the disabled list with a groin strain, relentlessly pounded the strike zone against the Jays, holding them scoreless through six innings. The former Cy Young winner threw 66 of his 87 pitches for strikes and gave up just four hits and a walk, rarely even entering into two-ball counts against Blue Jay batters.
Cecil ate up innings — at least — and Farrell said he “did his job.”
“Jones went down and got a decent pitch on a changeup that was on the outer part of the plate, but … to his credit (Cecil) kept the ball down and changed speeds effectively.”
Aside from the pitch to Jones, Cecil said he felt good about his outing.
“I felt really good about it, man. … Just one pitch.”
Before the game Cecil dropped the slider from his repertoire, saying he didn’t want to keep fighting it inside of games. “I just couldn’t seem to get it down,” he said. “And I have the cutter, which is essentially the same pitch.”
Down 3-0, and with his team’s offence sputtering with just four hits through seven innings, Farrell turned to minor-league relievers Sam Dyson and Aaron Loup, who along with Drew Carpenter and Chad Beck make up the Jays’ current stock of bullpen replacements. Dyson and Loup headed into the game with a combined 2.2 innings of major-league experience.
Dyson gave up four consecutive hits and a walk, allowing three runs to score and the Yankees to pull away. Loup fared better, earning two quick outs to end the inning.
On the bright side, Adam Lind had a two-hit night. In the 18 games since returning from his minor-league demotion on June 25, Lind is hitting .338 with five home runs and a .400 on-base percentage and an OPS of more than 1.000. Only Edwin Encarnacion has been as good over the same stretch.
The Jays scored a run in the eighth off Yankees reliever Chad Qualls when catcher Jeff Mathis led off with a ground-rule double to left centre, then advanced on back-to-back flyouts.
With Bautista out of the lineup for at least two weeks, the Jays may be looking to score more runs with the small game.
“You play to the strengths of the lineup that’s on the field,” Farrell said before Tuesday’s game. “If the ability to run the bases is there a little bit more, we got to get on base first, but we will play the game, take advantage of game situations as they emerge. But to sit here and say that we’re going to do things drastically different, we’ll see how that unfolds.”
In his major-league debut, speedy outfield prospect Anthony Gose — called up to replace Bautista — was inserted into the lineup to pinch-hit for Ben Francisco in the seventh against right-handed reliever Cody Eppley.
Wearing No. 43 — Cito Gaston’s old number — Gose had just stepped into his first big-league batter’s box, when out popped Yankees manager Joe Girardi, signalling to the bullpen with his left hand.
So the left-handed hitting Gose, who has struggled against southpaws this year, had to face lefty Boone Logan. He promptly grounded out to shortstop Derek Jeter.
Gose faced another lefty, Clay Rapada, in the ninth, slap-bunting his first major-league hit to load the bases by beating the throw from a befuddled Rapada, who couldn’t decide where to make the play.
“It’s a great feeling to get the first one out of the way,” Gose said. “Hopefully I can help the team get some more tomorrow.”
The Jays threatened a comeback in the ninth, when a leadoff double by Encarnacion led to a bases-loaded-with-one-out opportunity for J.P. Arencibia. But Arencibia lined out to first-baseman Mark Teixeira, who doubled-off Gose at first to end the game.