Pavano struggles in final start of year
Yankees fall to Jays after right-hander's abbreviated effort
TORONTO -- The book on Carl Pavano's tenure in a Yankees uniform closed for all intents and purposes on Thursday, supplying an unsatisfying conclusion to one of the more frustrating chapters in the club's recent memory.
Making his final start of the season and his seventh since returning from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, the right-hander surrendered five runs and exited early as the Yankees fell to the Blue Jays, 8-2, at Rogers Centre.
"My main goal after this surgery was just to get healthy and come out here and show that I could pitch," Pavano said. "I had days where I had average stuff or above-average stuff, and I had my ups and downs.
"But the last thing on my mind was this being my last start. It's been a battle for me since I've been here and it's going to be a battle wherever I go anyway."
Pitching on the wrong end of Toronto ace Roy Halladay's Major League-high ninth complete game, Vernon Wells personally did in Pavano, connecting for a two-run homer, his 18th, with two outs in the third inning.
Pavano faced seven batters in a three-run fourth inning before Wells chased him with a two-run single to left. Joe Inglett had the other Toronto RBI against Pavano, who -- in all likelihood -- completed his Yankees career allowing eight hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Now that Pavano's four-year, $39.95 million commitment is done, the Yankees have a $13 million club option on Pavano for 2009 that they will likely decline.
In four years, the oft-injured right-hander made 26 starts for New York, and he has acknowledged that a new destination via free agency is likely for him moving forward. Yet he said he has no regrets.
"None at all," Pavano said. "Obviously I'd have liked to have been here more for my team throughout the four years. That's probably the biggest thing, but I don't think I had much control over the things that happened. You just deal with them."
Upon returning to the Yankees this season, Pavano was largely welcomed into the clubhouse -- a far cry from last spring, when he and Mike Mussina engaged in a verbal war over Pavano's alleged lack of commitment to his team.
The barbs didn't subside much when Pavano -- New York's Opening Day starter a year ago -- lasted only two games that season before being sidelined with an injury that was eventually diagnosed to require Tommy John surgery.
Pavano had pushed for the surgery to be performed earlier than it actually was on June 5, and as it turns out, had the Yankees agreed Pavano might have been able to return earlier to help them try for a playoff spot. It was that desperate need that probably contributed to most of the Yankees' immediate acceptance.
"It's been crazy," Pavano said. "It seems like I've been fighting an uphill battle, but that's part of adversity. That comes with this game and it's part of life. Nothing is ever going to run smoothly. I think I dealt with it the best I could, and made adjustments when I needed to. What are you going to do?"
Facing Halladay, the answer for the Yankees was: Not much. Brett Gardner stroked a two-out double and scored on a Robinson Cano single in the third inning, and Cody Ransom scored on a Francisco Cervelli double-play grounder in the fourth.
That was all they'd manage as Halladay went the distance on a six-hitter, becoming a 20-game winner for the second time in his career.
"It's always tough," Xavier Nady said. "He's had a lot of success and knows what he does. He mixes well and keeps you off balance. You look for one pitch and you get the other. You always know you've got a challenge when you go up against him.
"You try to get a couple of streaky hits and get something going, but he's tough. Even when a couple of guys get on, he gets even harder and bears down. It's a challenge and it always has been."
Dan Giese was touched for two runs in two-thirds of an inning, allowing back-to-back RBI doubles to Travis Snider and Gregg Zaun in the fifth before being pulled. Humberto Sanchez surrendered a run in the seventh.
The Yankees will complete their regular season schedule by opening a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.