Joba outdueled by Halladay
Righty strikes out nine in 6 2/3, but Jays ace two-hits Yanks
TORONTO -- While speaking to reporters prior to the Yankees' game against the Blue Jays on Friday, manager Joe Girardi marveled at the effectiveness of the pitcher that his team was about to face.
Girardi commended Toronto ace Roy Halladay on his ability to throw pinpoint strikes with incredible movement. He also made somewhat of a prophetic statement.
"And he doesn't like to come out of games, either," Girardi said.
Sure enough, in Friday's contest, Halladay tossed a complete-game two-hitter and led the Jays to a 5-0 win over the Yankees at Rogers Centre.
There was not much the Yankees (49-44) could do against Halladay, who was dominant from start to finish en route to notching his Major League-leading seventh complete game of the season.
"Obviously he was very good tonight," Girardi said afterward. "That's as good as I've seen him pitch against us. I think we faced him three times already this year, but that's as good as he's been."
Although the Yankees mustered only two hits -- one each from Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez -- they were able to garner a few more baserunners. Halladay allowed one walk and hit two batsmen early in the game, though no New York player made it past second base on the night.
Halladay (11-6) finished with eight strikeouts and induced 12 outs via ground balls. During a stretch between the first and second innings, he fanned four consecutive New York batters.
It was nothing different than what Jeter has seen in his many years of facing the Jays starter.
"He never throws a ball over the middle of the plate," Jeter said. "If you face him four or five times in a game, you might get one pitch over the plate. I mean, he goes corner-to-corner as good as any pitcher in the game. I said it before, he's probably the best starter in baseball, I would think.
"He's as consistent as anyone."
Jeter was also faced with questions about the current state of the New York offense. In the eight games since scoring a season-high 18 runs against the Rangers on July 2, the Yankees have scored just 20 runs and hit a collective .207 (51-for-251). New York has gone 4-4 in that span against Boston, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and now Toronto.
"I don't think you can say we've been struggling," Jeter said. "Boston's pitching staff is pretty good. Tampa, their staff is the reason they have the best record in the game.
"You throw an All-Star team out there today, it wouldn't have done much with Halladay. It's kind of tough to say we're struggling offensively. We've faced some good pitchers. But today, I really don't think it made a difference."
One positive that emerged from Friday's game was the quality start by New York's Joba Chamberlain (2-3). Although he did take the loss, his first as a starter, the hard-throwing right-hander managed to keep his team in the game with a chance to win.
He allowed three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, tying his longest outing of the season. It also marked the first time since he was converted from a reliever to a starter that Chamberlain had surrendered no walks in an outing.
In the third inning, Chamberlain allowed the Jays to score two runs on an RBI single to center field from Lyle Overbay, followed later by run-scoring groundout from Matt Stairs.
Toronto (46-47) added a third run in the sixth inning, when catcher Rod Barajas hammered a 1-1 pitch over the left-center-field wall for a solo home run that gave the Jays a 3-0 lead.
However, the Yankees were happy with Chamberlain's progress.
"You see progress every time he goes out there," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, referring to Chamberlain's transition into being a full-time starter. "You see him maturing and doing a lot of things, like understanding what the lineup is trying to do against him. That's important."
Girardi echoed those sentiments.
"I like the way he's throwing the ball, and I think he's learning a lot," said the manager. "I think he's making the right steps that he has to, to be a very effective starter."
Of course, no matter what Chamberlain did on Friday, the way Halladay was throwing seemed to make overcoming any kind of deficit a monumental task.
"Any time you face a guy like Halladay and you have a deficit, it feels larger than it is," said Rodriguez.
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.