Blue Jays don't want it, but Yankees won't take it
David LennonDavid Lennon
David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since
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What else do the Blue Jays need to do?
Pitch underhand? Go to the Eddie Feigner alignment and use three fielders? Have Ace, the team's blue-feathered mascot, as the DH?
Seriously. If John Farrell harbors any secret yearning for the Red Sox job, he'd better hope Boston general manager Ben Cherington never gets his hands on the DVDs from this series against the Yankees.
The Blue Jays have been awful in just about every phase of the game, and yet the Yankees -- with the AL East crown there for the taking -- have refused to give them the stomping they deserve.
Somewhere between Ricky Romero hopping off the mound holding his knee, more stupid baserunning tricks and a defense incapable of picking up a ground ball on the first try, another comedy sketch came to mind.
It was Saturday Night Live's 1988 election debate, with the smarmy Michael Dukakis, played by Jon Lovitz, hammering away at Dana Carvey's non-sensical George Bush. Finally, after another round of Carvey's "On track, stay the course, thousand points of light," Dukakis is asked for a rebuttal.
Says an exasperated Lovitz, in full uni-brow amazement, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!"
Joe Girardi didn't say exactly that after Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, but it had to be flashing in big neon letters behind his eyeballs. Or some variation of that as Girardi sat at a desk and tried to keep a straight face.
The Blue Jays, who entered as a 69-win team, were begging to be put to sleep. Twice in the first three innings, the Yankees loaded the bases with none out, but they came away with only two runs on sacrifice flies by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson in the first. They went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position -- neither hit drove in a run -- and stranded 10.
"We had chances to blow that game open," Girardi said, "and we didn't."
It happens. Baseball is difficult, and invariably there is more failure than success. But the Blue Jays are a Dead Team Walking right now, and a mindless one at that. When Nick Swisher cut down Yan Gomes after too big a turn at third, it was the third time in two games that a wandering Jay had been gunned down in scoring position.
For a major-league team, that qualifies as an epidemic. And with Toronto consistently running into outs, as well as committing two more errors, the Yankees really have only themselves to blame.
Alex Rodriguez found the spotlight again. He decided to field a two-out chopper that might have rolled foul if he had left it alone, and the speedy Rajai Davis easily beat it out to drive in the tying run in the fifth. "That's a judgment call," Rodriguez said. "I made the most aggressive choice."
He shouldn't lose any sleep over that one. It was a do-or-die play and he got burned. But with the way this AL East race is going down to the wire, the loss -- the second to the lowly Jays in three games -- definitely will sting more if the Yankees find themselves having to face the Orioles in a Game No. 163 to decide the division winner.
They can't expect much help Sunday from the Red Sox, who seem more focused on further humiliating Bobby Valentine than putting up a fight in Baltimore. At least the Rays, with nothing much to play for except pride, should show some when they host the Orioles at the Trop for the final three games next week.
In the meantime, the Yankees have some business of their own to take care of. It needs to start Sunday at Rogers Centre, where Phil Hughes takes the mound for the series finale.
Girardi's crew may be too old, too slow and too homer-happy, but they are a resilient bunch. The Yankees haven't dropped two in a row since Sept. 4 at Tampa Bay, a stretch of 23 games.
"We'll shake it off," Girardi said. "We'll bounce back. We always have."
No doubt. But when the Blue Jays try to hand over the game again Sunday, the Yankees might consider accepting the W for the flight home.