Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees’ bats can’t get going on Wednesday night in Toronto.
TORONTO – The Yankees will be very happy to see Marcus Stroman on the mound Thursday night. Yes, he’s the Blue Jays’ ace, but at least he doesn’t throw with his left hand.
J.A. Happ became the latest lefthander to stifle the Yankees, pitching the Blue Jays to a 7-2 win in front of 27,938 at Rogers Centre Wednesday night.
“I thought we certainly were probably better than the numbers showed,” Chase Headley said. “Some hard-hit balls with guys on base and just hit it at the wrong guy, but give him credit, I thought he pitched well too. I like the way we match up against lefties a lot better this year than I did last year.”
Even with lefty-hitting Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Brian McCann sitting on the bench, the Yankees struggled against Happ, who limited them to one run on seven hits and three walks over six innings.
The Yankees entered the night hitting .220 with a .688 OPS against southpaws this year compared to .294 and .866 against righties, continuing a trend that haunted them during last year’s stretch run.
To be fair, 33 of their 50 plate appearances against southpaws during the first week came against Dallas Keuchel, but after the way Joe Girardi’s team struggled against lefties last season, it’s never too early to see how the return of Mark Teixeira and the additions of Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks have helped.
“I thought we hit the ball pretty good,” Girardi said. “There were a number of balls; (Headly) hit one hard with runners on, Hicksy hit one hard with runners on. I thought we had some pretty good swings and some guys just missed some balls, so I don’t think this will be a pattern.”
J.A. Happ becomes the latest lefty to silence the Yankees, allowing just one run over six innings and striking out four.
The Yankees were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, stranding seven men on base. They were still in the game in the eighth after Teixeira brought them within a run with his third home run of the season, a solo shot off righty reliever Drew Storen.
That was before Ivan Nova entered the game and imploded in the bottom of the eighth, giving up four runs to hand Toronto a comfortable lead, which switch-pitcher (and former Yankees farmhand) Pat Venditte closed out in the ninth.
Michael Pineda wasn’t great, but he kept the Yankees in the game with six innings of three-run ball (two earned). Pineda allowed five hits and three walks – his first three-walk game in 42 starts with the Yankees – while striking out six.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty well tonight,” Girardi said. “He gave up the two earned runs in the six innings against a pretty good offense here.”
No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins doubled in the game’s first run in the second inning as the Blue Jays worked Pineda’s pitch count to 45 through two.
The Yanks had runners on in each of the first four innings, but Happ stranded them all. Ronald Torreyes opened the fifth with a double and Austin Romine singled. Hicks’ RBI groundout tied the game, but Happ limited the damage to the one run.
Michael Pineda pitches better his second time out but still takes a loss.
“I like our lineup against lefties,” Teixeira said. “You look at that lineup tonight; that’s a lineup that’s going to score runs. Didn’t happen tonight, but we’ll score runs.”
Pineda settled down with quick innings in the third and fourth, getting control of his pitch count. But once the Yankees tied the game, the Blue Jays went right back to work.
Justin Smoak drew a leadoff walk and Goins hit his second double of the game, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. The runners came home on Torreyes’ throwing error and a double play, handing Happ another lead.
Teixeira’s blast off the right-field foul pole pulled the Yankees within a run, but Nova gave up four runs on five hits in the bottom of the eighth as Toronto batted around.
“It’s different for him, but we need him to be able to get us outs,” Girardi said of Nova, who is adapting to his new bullpen role. “I thought that was a good situation to bring him in. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to or the way he wanted it to, but we have to be able to use him in some different situations.”