Yanks endure frustration in finale
Bombers mount late rally, but unable to sweep Jays
NEW YORK -- The first indication that the afternoon might not go very well for the streaking Yankees came early, when Derek Jeter was called out on what appeared to be a phantom first-inning tag at third base. It wouldn't be the day's only mirage.
While Andy Pettitte believed he had his best stuff of the season and the consensus was that he pitched better than his line indicated, the hole he left was just too large to overcome as the Yankees suffered a 7-6 defeat to the Blue Jays on Monday.
"I felt like I might have started the game with the best stuff I had all year, as far as my command," Pettitte said. "I just felt great. Then you look up there at the end of the day and I've got five walks up there. That's not going to work."
The Yankees may have been denied a four-game sweep by the Jays, but they still left town with a successful homestand and victories in 10 of their past 12 games. New York will not see Yankee Stadium again until after the All-Star break, heading west to Minnesota and Anaheim to wrap up the first half.
"For the most part, we've been pitching well and swinging the bats well," Jeter said. "Even today, we fell behind and put ourselves in a pretty good position to come back. We just want to continue it."
No one would argue that the umpires had a rough day, which didn't help the Yankees' chances. Third-base umpire Marty Foster called Jeter out in the first inning on a steal attempt -- even though third baseman Scott Rolen missed the tag, and second-base umpire Wally Bell punched out Eric Hinske on a seventh-inning play where Marco Scutaro received a throw well off the bag.
But the pounding that the Blue Jays were able to put on Pettitte -- and the Yankees' inability to mount anything other than Hinske's solo homer through six innings against rookie Ricky Romero -- were the reasons that Toronto held a six-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
"We had some things maybe go against us, but we still had opportunities," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was tossed in the first after Jeter was called out on his steal attempt. "We kept chipping away, but just came up a little short."
Pettitte was rapped for six runs over six-plus innings. Catcher Rod Barajas put the Blue Jays on the board in the third inning with an RBI single off the yellow foul-line paint of the right-field wall, and Alex Rios extended the lead in the third with his homer to left field to put the Blue Jays up, 4-0.
"I gave up that three-run home run early, and that was obviously a big blow," Pettitte said. "I feel like I could have kept it right there and we were going to win the game. We've got a lot of confidence playing here. It's just frustrating that I couldn't do it."
John McDonald touched Pettitte for a solo home run in the seventh inning, and Brian Bruney relieved, allowing a two-run double to Scott Rolen that offered Toronto a cushy 7-1 advantage. Pettitte surrendered five hits, walking five and striking out three, as he took his first loss since June 13.
"There's some circumstances that could have changed the amount of runs he gave up, but I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well," Girardi said. "I actually thought his numbers did not indicate the way he threw the ball today."
Romero stymied the Yankees in his first career start against them, leaving the clubhouse abuzz about his promising future. Touched only for Hinske's solo homer through six frames, Romero finished with three runs over 6 1/3, as Nick Swisher greeted reliever Brandon League with a two-run single in the seventh.
"He was good. I sit underneath here [in the clubhouse] for a little bit usually, and he's got good stuff," Pettitte said. "He's throwing 95 [mph] from the left side with a devastating changeup. If he stays healthy, he's got a chance to be good for a long time, that's for sure."
In all, Romero walked three and struck out five in the outing, leaving in line for what would become his seventh victory. It didn't come as easily as he made it look.
"They had me battling every inning," Romero said. "They took me deep into counts, and I fell behind in counts, too, which I wasn't very pleased about. It happens. They're good hitters and they're going to be patient. They're going to try to get their pitches. We made pitches when we were supposed to."
New York added a run in the eighth, as Robinson Cano stroked a one-out double and Jeremy Accardo hit both Hinske and pinch-hitter Johnny Damon. Jeter worked a full-count walk with the bases loaded, but Jason Frasor got Swisher to fly out to end the inning.
The Yankees got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth after Hideki Matsui dropped a pinch-hit two-run single into shallow center field. But Frasor struck out Hinske swinging to finish a Yankees debut that also included a first-inning diving catch in right field and a seventh-inning single.
"We didn't get a win today and that's the bottom line," Hinske said. "It was a lot of fun to play my first game as a Yankee. It was a great experience for me, but the bottom line is, we lost the game. I wish we could have got a win."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.