CC Sabathia took the blame. Manager Joe Girardi spread it around.
No matter whose mistakes cost the Yankees in their sixth loss in nine games, they need to straighten things out: the quickly closing Baltimore Orioles are coming to the Bronx for three games starting Friday.
Sabathia failed to hold two leads, and New York made three errors and went homerless at Yankee Stadium in consecutive games for the first time this season. It all added up to an 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
”We didn’t play well, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. ”We had chances offensively: didn’t get it done. We had chances defensively: didn’t get it done.”
The Yankees’ inability to win back-to-back games for the first time since beating Texas three in a row Aug. 13-15 has hurt them in the standings. New York leads the AL East by 3½ games after Baltimore’s 8-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
The Yankees went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, even though they had six doubles for the first time since July 30, 2011.
”Things like this happen every once in a while. You just have to shake it off,” Russell Martin said. ”We’ve got to bring it against the Orioles this weekend, for sure. It’s a big one.”
Yunel Escobar had the big day for Toronto. The shortstop hit a two-run homer, three doubles and drove in five runs. He had a go-ahead RBI double in the third. His homer against Sabathia in the sixth gave the Blue Jays the lead again and his two-run double off Joba Chamberlain in the ninth helped secure Toronto’s first series win since July 27-29. The five RBI matched a career high for Escobar.
”He feels like anything positive that happens to the club is going to be welcome right now,” injured slugger Jose Bautista said, translating for Escobar. ”He feels like winning a series on the road against a club like the Yankees that’s definitely a positive and he hopes it can help bring up team morale a little bit.”
J.A. Happ (3-1) overcame a season-high five walks, including an intentional pass of Derek Jeter to load the bases with one out in the fourth inning, for the Blue Jays’ second win in 10 games.
Four Blue Jays relievers combined to hold New York to a run and four doubles over four innings. Brandon Lyon opened the eighth by giving up consecutive doubles to pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez and Martin, whose grounder bounced high off third base to make it 6-5.
Colby Rasmus, a late-game entrant, made a diving catch on Ichiro Suzuki’s sinking liner and Lyon struck out Eric Chavez and got Jeter, with the crowd chanting his name, to fly out to right.
Casey Janssen pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save after blowing an opportunity in the ninth inning Monday night.
Sabathia (13-4) was undefeated over his last nine starts against Toronto — 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA — since the beginning of his Cy Young Award season of 2007 with Cleveland.
In his second outing since coming off the disabled list, the big lefty was hurt by third baseman Jayson Nix’s fielding error in the third inning that led to three unearned runs. Escobar’s eighth homer made it 5-4 and came after right fielder Andruw Jones made a diving catch on Adam Lind’s liner but lost the ball as he rolled over his glove. Jones tried to sell the catch by holding up the ball — flashing a sneaky grin — but the umpires weren’t buying it.
”It’s definitely disappointing,” Sabathia said. ”It’s all my fault, obviously.”
Toronto added a run on a squeeze play in the eighth with Jeff Mathis batting and Escobar on third after he led off with his second double.
Sabathia gave up at least five runs for the sixth time this year. He struck out eight in seven innings.
”You also have to give them credit for good at-bats,” Sabathia said, ”but I need to make better pitches.”
Jones and Curtis Granderson drove in runs after Jeter led off the first with a single and Nick Swisher walked. Granderson added a two-run double in the third to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead after Happ walked two and threw a wild pitch.
In the fourth he got himself in trouble again, starting off the inning by walking Nix and giving up a double to Suzuki. With one out, Happ gave Jeter an intentional free pass with Swisher, batting .367 over his last 21 games, due up.
Happ struck out Swisher and Robinson Cano.
Happ pitched a quick fifth and was done for the day, having allowed four hits and four runs. He struck out six. It was Happ’s second win against the Yankees since coming over in a trade with Houston on July 20.
The Ugandan Little League team, the first squad from Africa to make it to the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa., visited with the Yankees before the game. The boys met Jeter and Mariano Rivera, were given a clubhouse tour by Girardi, including the players-only facilities, and watched batting practice from the dugout. They helped the Bleacher Creatures do the ”roll call” in the first inning.