The Yankees can’t solely blame "Joey Bats” for this one.
Jose Bautista hit another home run but was not among the Blue Jays who spent the sixth inning teeing off on Bartolo Colon’s fastball in last night’s 7-3 loss.
Bautista hit his major league-leading 19th home run and 16th in the last 26 games three batters into the game but otherwise had a quiet night when the Yankees elected to pitch to him. The one instance Colon elected not to face him was in the pivotal sixth.
“Bautista is hitting the ball really well right now,” Colon said through a translator. “But I don’t worry about one guy – I worry about the whole team.”
“He’s a tough out,” catcher Russell Martin added. “Every at-bat, it seems like he is zoned in. It seems like everything is slowing down for him at the plate. He’s definitely the guy you don’t want to beat you.”
And it was the rest of the Blue Jays that beat Colon, who saw a tie ballgame disintegrate into his second-worst start as a Yankee.
After not pitching to Bautista and seeing cleanup hitter Yunel Escobar sacrifice runners to second and third, Colon had no problem when manager Joe Girardi instructed him to put Juan Rivera on.
“We took shots,” Girardi said. “It just didn’t work out.”
It was a strategy that backfired because Colon failed in his quest to get a double-play grounder and walked Eric Thames on four fastballs that had little movement. That was after Aaron Hill hit a ground ball past Alex Rodriguez for a go-ahead RBI single.
“We got the ground ball we wanted,” Martin said. “(It) was just not in the right spot.”
Also in the wrong spot was the fastball that J.P. Arencibia hit for a three-run double that saw a close game get away from the Yankees.
Another move that may have backfired was not being prepared for the rapid nature of Toronto’s inning. The Yankees had nobody warming up until Hill’s hit and wasted a mound trip instructing Colon to walk Rivera.
“He wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve seen him,” Girardi said. “And when you measure up against his last start, that was as about as good as we can get. He really kept us in the game and we had a hard time scoring.”
Colon was locked in a pitchers duel with Carlos Villanueva, another opposing starter coming at the Yankees with off-speed stuff. Villanueva, whose last start was October 3, 2009 for Milwaukee, retired nine of the first 10 Yankees and allowed a run and two hits in five innings.
“A lot of off-speed, he changed his speeds,” Girardi said. “It looked like his slider down and in to lefties to finish them was pretty good tonight. He had the slow curveball and changeup. He just changed speeds a lot.”
Besides struggling against the 43 off-speed pitches from Villanueva, the Yankee bats continued having problems with men in scoring position by going 2-for-15.
The closest the Yankees came to hitting their 72nd home run was in the fifth when Derek Jeter flied out to the warning track in left field for the final out and in the ninth when Granderson lined a potential two-run home run foul before striking out for the final out.
Granderson was the only productive member of the Yankees. He scored all three runs for an offense that not generate a hit with men in scoring position until eighth-inning singles by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.
Slumping right fielder Nick Swisher had his second straight game off as Chris Dickerson started in right. Swisher is hitting just .214 and .170 as a left-handed hitter.
“It’s been a struggle, so I thought it would be time to give him a couple days and take a breath, because he’s important for us,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of different ways to work with players when they’re going through a tough time offensively. I chose at this point to give him a couple days.
The Blue Jays will throw lefties Ricky Romero and Jo Jo Reyes the next two games and Girardi said Swisher would start tonight.
Granderson is on pace for 123 runs. That would be the most for a Yankee center fielder since Rickey Henderson crossed the plate 130 times during the 1986 season when he was frequently driven in by Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield.
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