07/13/08 7:15 PM ET
Yanks' rally comes too late in Toronto
Four-run second costs Pettitte; Giambi's homer lone highlight
By Gregor Chisholm / Special to MLB.com
When asked by a reporter if the Yankees had a good enough team to play better in the second half and make it back to the postseason, Pettitte was blunt and to the point.
"If we want to make the playoffs, we have to be better," Pettitte said. "We stink right now, for the most part. As a team, we've kind of stunk it up here lately, and we need to play better."
Pettitte (10-7) was visibly upset not only with his own pitching performance, but also the team's lack of offense.
On Friday night, it was Roy Halladay keeping the Yankees (50-45) in check by tossing a shutout. On Sunday afternoon, it was A.J. Burnett, who came within two outs of recording a shutout of his own.
"It's disappointing to end the first half like this," Pettitte said. "Their guy pretty much dominated us the whole day, and they were running me back out there awfully quick. Not a real good game by us."
Yankees captain Derek Jeter wasn't in complete agreement with Pettitte's statements. He thinks the team's recent struggles have a lot to do with who has been taking the mound for the opposing team.
"We've been playing well, I think," said Jeter, who had his 10-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-4. "Obviously, we would like to have swung the bats a little better here, but Halladay and Burnett beat us, and that's the bottom line. ... Before we got here, I thought we were playing pretty well."
After his team scored nine runs on Saturday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was hoping for a similar performance on the last day before the All-Star break. But New York was on the verge of being shut out until designated hitter Jason Giambi hit an opposite-field home run in the top of the ninth to break up Burnett's shutout bid.
It was Giambi's 19th home run of the season and his first since July 2, when the Yankees scored 18 runs against the Rangers. If you take away that game's offensive outburst and Saturday's nine-run performance, the Yankees are averaging just 2.3 runs per game this month.
Girardi said it's not an easy problem to find a solution to, but he hopes the second half tells a different story.
"Some days, we don't hit," said Girardi, whose team managed to get just three runners past first base during the game. "It's something that I expect is going to turn around in the second half, and I expect our guys to have great second halves."
The Yankees were unable to generate much offense off Burnett (10-8). The club's best chance at starting a rally came in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez hit back-to-back singles, setting the table for Giambi. The Yankees slugger flied out to right field, though, and Burnett struck out Jorge Posada to end the threat.
"He never got out of his rhythm," Girardi said of Burnett, who was pitching on three days' rest and allowed just one run on six hits, striking out eight in 8 1/3 innings. "He located the ball all day. He was able to elevate when he had to. He was able to go an inch or two off the plate when he had to. He was outstanding today."
Pettitte's struggles came in the second inning. With the Yankees already trailing, 1-0, the lefty was facing Jays infielder Marco Scutaro with two men on and no outs.
After getting ahead in the count, 1-2, Pettitte threw a cutter down and on the inside part of the plate. Scutaro got his bat under the ball and lifted it over the wall in left field for a three-run homer, giving the Jays an early and commanding lead.
"It was a poor job on mine and Jorge's part," said Pettitte, who allowed four runs on eight hits, striking out six in six innings. "[We were] thinking that he was maybe looking for another pitch. It was a bad pitch to throw at that point in time. Obviously, he was looking for it."
Having reached the All-Star break, most of the Yankees can now enjoy four days off before resuming the second half of the season against the Athletics on Friday night in New York. There, they will once again be wearing a black band around their sleeves to honor former player and broadcaster Bobby Murcer, who died at 62 on Saturday due to brain cancer. It's a tribute the Yankees plan on continuing for the rest of the season.
Gregor Chisholm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.