NEW YORK - John Farrell had a notion that this road trip might define the Toronto Blue Jays’ season.
The club’s manager could very well be right, but perhaps not in the way he had in mind.
The New York Yankees beat Toronto for the second game in a row Tuesday, a 6-1 walk in the park that seemed even more one-sided than the score. And if you’re pointing to the absence of injured Jose Bautista as the lightning rod, don’t count on it.
Tuesday's starter CC Sabathia had dispatched Bautista in 18 of 19 career at-bats, so the slugger's unavailability is likely a non-factor.
The Yankees are simply playing better than just about any team in baseball and the Jays are ... well, ordinary. They lost for the 46th time in 91 games, joining the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins as the only teams in the American League below the .500 mark.
Toronto’s starting rotation is hanging on by its fingernails and the bullpen is in shambles. When the offence doesn’t score five or more runs, the Jays seldom have a chance to win.
The ages-old argument about playing in the best division in baseball doesn’t even work because the Jays still have the bulk of their intra-divisional games left to play.
That is not a happy prospect.
Brett Cecil did a decent job Tuesday, allowing three runs over six innings but got no run support with the Jays facing Sabathia, who has owned them over the last five years.
One three-batter sequence in the second inning proved to be Cecil’s downfall.
After getting through the first inning without much difficulty, Cecil yielded a leadoff single to Robinson Cano, then walked Nick Swisher. Andruw Jones then collided with a 2-1 Cecil offering and sent it over the wall in left field to give New York a 3-0 lead. It was all the Yankees would get off Cecil.
“He got into a better rhythm as he went toward the middle innings and his curveball was sharp,” Farrell said of Cecil. “Jones went down and did a good job on a changeup but other than that, Brett did his job tonight.”
With the way Sabathia was dismissing the Jays all night, that homer was one more than the Yankees needed. Toronto only had two runners advance past second base until the big lefty was taken out of the game in the seventh.
Then again, nobody should be surprised by that.
Since the start of the 2007 season, Sabathia is 8-0 against the Jays with a 2.47 ERA. This six-inning, four-hit, one-walk gem, coming after more than three weeks off nursing a groin pull back to health, runs his record to 10-3 on the season.
Only Adam Lind seemed comfortable against Sabathia. He had a pair of hits and is now hitting .455 (5-for-11) for his career against the Yankees left-hander.
With Cecil out of the game after six innings, the Yankees scored three more runs in the seventh off rookie Sam Dyson, who faced six batters and got just one out before Aaron Loup came on to clean up the mess with no further trouble.
The Jays rallied for one run in the eighth off the Yankees bullpen and then loaded the bases in the ninth before closer Rafael Soriano got a double-play liner off the bat of J.P. Arencibia to end it.
GOSE A SNIDER FAN
A lot of Jays fans felt the promotion to fill Bautista’s roster spot should have gone to Travis Snider. In his heart of hearts, Anthony Gose agrees.
“I would have said: Travis. He has been here, he has worked hard, he’s had a great season,” said Gose. “He has battled injuries, came back, been strong for the team, been a team leader throughout the year and I would have just said Travis Snider.”
Having said that, Gose smiled and added, “No, I didn’t give him my ticket.”
Gost came into Tuesdaye’s game as a pinch-hitter and ended up facing two left-handers as Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen both times. In his second at-bat, Gose got his first big-league hit, a bunt single.
Ironically, Gose credits Snider with mentoring him to the point where he got the job ahead of Snider.
“Travis has been unbelievable,” said Gose. “He’s really helped me out a lot, just showing me the things to do on a daily basis, on and off the field, going about your business the right way, playing hard, playing the right way. Being seen, not heard. Anything and everything you can think of, Travis has helped me out tremendously.”
Farrell understands how it may appear to fans that Snider, and even Eric Thames, are being snubbed.
“Gose coming here is not to slight anyone,” said the manager. “Snider, Thames, all three, have been playing very well, but it was the clear recommendation of the staff there and the (organizational) people that have gone through Las Vegas recently for Anthony be here and that’s the reason why he’s here.”
Farrell was reluctant to discuss how long Gose’s tenure would be. Partly it depends upon Bautista’s recovery, partly it depends on how difficult Gose makes it for the Jays to send him back. Circumstances will dictate if it’s two weeks, two months or two decades.
“It’s like inviting someone to a dinner party and then asking them when they’re going to leave,” said Farrell. “That’s not going to be the case in this situation. We sustained a significant injury and Anthony is here to contribute.”
For his part, Gose was in awe of the moment.
“To be on the field with these guys and the team, it’s surreal and it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said.
“I’m speechless, really. It’s a tremendous opportunity. Any time you can be a part of a big-league club at a big-league stadium, especially Yankee Stadium, with all the history and everything that’s happened here. It’s beautiful, it’s indescribable, really.”
FROM GASTON TO GOSE
Gose was assigned uniform No. 43, last worn by Cito Gaston during his two stints as manager.