The last time R.A. Dickey had been on a pitcher’s mound in New York, Mets fans showered him with affection in September after he became the team’s first 20-game winner in more than two decades.
When he returned Sunday with the last-place Toronto Blue Jays, he left dejected.
”Obviously I wish for a better result,” he said after giving up a pair of home runs to the New York Yankees, who beat him 3-2 to complete a four-game sweep of the no-longer-fancied Blue Jays.
Dealt to Toronto after going 20-3 and winning the NL Cy Young Award, Dickey (2-4) already has lost more games this year than in all of 2012. The 38-year-old allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings, with four strikeouts and a walk. He’s been slowed by soreness in his neck and back.
”If I have to battle it for a while, I’ll battle it for a while until it goes away,” he said. ”It gets marginally better between starts. It’s just that when I have to start it breaks down again.”
Toronto (9-17) was swept in a four-game series in which it led every game for the first time since Sept. 19-21, 1995, at old Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays were 4 for 24 with runners in scoring position in the series and struck out 37 times, including 13 Sunday.
”You want me to go out there and hit or something?” manager John Gibbons said. ”I couldn’t hit when I played.”
A favorite to win the division after bulking up its roster, Toronto is eight games under .500 in April for the first time since 2004, according to STATS. All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes is out until July because of an ankle injury and pitcher Josh Johnson was scratched from Friday’s start because of right triceps tightness.
”Obviously it’s been incredibly disappointing for everybody,” Dickey said. ”The beauty of baseball is that it’s only one month, so there’s still time. But at the same time, we just can’t keep going out there and saying, `Oh, things `ll turn.’ We know what needs to be done. It’s just a matter of doing it. If we can do it, great; if not, we’re going to be losers.”
Toronto, which starts a six-game homestand Tuesday against Boston and Seattle, is hitting .229 and has 210 strikeouts in 26 games.
”It’s going to get better. I still expect us to be a good-hitting team. I don’t think any of that changes at all,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. ”We will go on a run and we will get hot and everyone’s going to get excited again.”
Jose Bautista is hitting .192, Maicer Izturis .200 and Edwin Encarnacion .227.
Melky Cabrera and Adam Lind both are at .250.
With a 1-for-4 day, Colby Rasmus improved to .089 (4 for 45) at new Yankee Stadium.
”You see how many batting averages we have in the 1s? These guys have been playing too long for that to stay,” Anthopoulos said.
Half of New York’s hits were homers.
Brennan Boesch sent a drive into the first row of the right-field seats in the second inning. After Toronto took a 2-1 lead against Phil Hughes on Lind’s RBI single in the fourth and Izturis’ run-scoring double off the base of the right-field wall in the sixth, the Yankees overcame a deficit for the fourth straight day when Lyle Overbay hit two-run homer in the seventh that was caught on the fly by Yankees reliever David Robertson in the right-field bullpen.
Boone Logan (1-1) pitched a one-hit seventh, Robertson threw a 1-2-3 eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in nine chances, extending his career record to 617.
”We’re right in every game,” Gibbons said. ”We just can’t get that big win.”
NOTES: Toronto LHP Ricky Romero allowed one run and six hits over seven innings Saturday night in his season debut for Class A Dunedin against Brevard County in the Florida State League. A 2011 All-Star, Romero started the season in the minor leagues to work on his mechanics. … Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale was ejected for arguing in the seventh when New York’s Eduardo Nunez was slow to walk to the plate after Overbay’s homer. The Yankees said Nunez had something in an eye. … Blue Jays SS Munenori Kawasaki sprinted nearly 100 feet to make an over-the-should grab in the fourth on Travis Hafner pop down the left-field line. After receiving congratulations in the dugout at the end on the inning, Kawasaki did a quick dance.