Yankees fall in 14 innings in Toronto
Pettitte tosses gem in losing cause, striking out 10
TORONTO -- Following the Yankees' 3-2, 14-inning loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, Derek Jeter could be forgiven for not remembering the specifics of his first few at-bats of the day. Indeed, it was a day the Yankees' offense would prefer to forget.
By the time Aaron Hill lined a single off Chad Gaudin to score Edwin Encarnacion with the winning run, the Yankees had struck out 14 times as a team and collected only eight hits. For the 12th time in their past 13 road games, the Bombers scored fewer than five runs. Though they average 6.7 runs per game at home, that number has dipped to 4.5 on the road this season.
"Just one of those games where you wish you were able to score runs two hours ago," said Jeter, who was the only player who lasted the entire game without striking out. "We had plenty of opportunities."
Even with an extra five frames to play with on Saturday, the Yanks crossed the plate only twice, on Jeter's two-run, opposite-field homer off Ricky Romero in the fifth. The Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters finished the day 2-for-24 with a pair of singles. Mark Teixeira had more strikeouts on Saturday than the Yankees have runs in this series; the first baseman leads that race, five to three.
"It's just a tough day," manager Joe Girardi said. "They've been swinging the bats. It's just a tough day. It's going to happen."
That sentiment was echoed later by Teixeira, who had one of the toughest days of his professional career. The first baseman flew out to left his first time up, and didn't put a ball in play the rest of the afternoon. He struck out swinging five times, four of them on changeups, matching an ignominious career high set back in August 2003.
"I've done it before. Strikeouts are a part of the game," Teixeira said. "Today, I just didn't see the ball real well."
The 0-for-6 dropped Teixeira's average down to .215 on the season. After a blistering start to May diminished concerns about his customarily poor April, Teixeira is hitting .194 over his last 18 games. Girardi is still far from worried, regarding his first baseman and third hitter.
"If you play long enough, all of us have had those days," Girardi said. "It is going to click. When it does, it's going to be fun."
Of course, Teixeira's bad day could have been obscured, had the rest of the Yankees' lineup not struggled so mightily against Romero. The 25-year-old left-hander matched teammate Brett Cecil in tossing eight innings against New York, limiting the Bombers to five hits. Romero showcased the same tough changeup that Cecil utilized time and again on Friday, getting seven swinging strikeouts on the pitch.
Romero extricated himself from his biggest jam in the seventh. With runners on second and third and only one out in a 2-1 game, he got Jeter to line it straight to the second baseman Hill, who then doubled Francisco Cervelli off third to end the inning.
It wasn't just Romero, though. Four Toronto relievers combined to toss six scoreless innings in which they allowed only four New York baserunners.
The Yankees' ineptitude on offense spoiled Andy Pettitte's bid to win his 200th game in pinstripes. Pettitte delivered yet another excellent outing, matching Romero for 7 2/3 innings of two-run, five-hit ball. Pettitte's characteristic cutter was even better than usual; the left-hander used it to record all of his season-high 10 strikeouts.
Pettitte, however, was left ruing the seventh-inning home run he served up to Alex Gonzalez that tied the game in the seventh.
"I was away for a while, and I felt like I needed to come in," Pettitte said. "It was actually right about where I wanted to go with it. Any time you have a one-run lead and you get hurt on a ball inside, it's not what you want to do."
It was the second home run Pettitte allowed on the day; the other came in the second, when Vernon Wells, who entered the game with a .348 lifetime average off the Yankees' veteran, went opposite-field on him for his 14th blast of the year.
"The ball to Vernon was off the plate, but it was up a little bit. Guys don't usually drive the ball out the other way like that," Pettitte said. "Every ball that was up early in the first couple innings, they were jumping all over. I had to work extremely hard to get the ball down."
The Yankees' bullpen was able to replicate Pettitte's success for several innings. Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park each turned in scoreless outings, giving up four hits in 5 1/3 innings among them.
Girardi played by the books in opting for Gaudin instead of closer Mariano Rivera in the 14th, and it cost him. Gaudin walked Encarnacion on four pitches before a Fred Lewis sacrifice bunt. Gaudin got ahead of Hill, 0-2, but he left a slider up in the zone for the second baseman to line into center, driving in the winning run.
"I was just trying to throw a slider off the plate and got around on it; it was up, and he put good wood on it," Gaudin said. "You've got guys battling out there for 14 innings, and to let them down like that, it's tough."
The real focus, however, belongs on an offense that has gone south north of the border. The Yankees had thought they had built offensive momentum during their last homestand, in which they scored 55 runs in winning six of seven. But Girardi alluded to the old baseball maxim about momentum and the next day's pitcher. Now, he hopes it can stem the tide on Sunday, when the Yankees will attempt to avoid their first sweep of the season and first in Toronto since the end of the 2000 season.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.