The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-5 Monday night, continuing what has been a season-long stretch of dominance over New York. The win improved the Jays’ season record against the Yankees to 9-7 (only the Rays have beaten the Yankees more times, with 10 victories), a mark that includes a 5-2 record at Rogers Centre. Unless the Yankees can win the next two games they will set a new record for futility on the road at Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era, as they’d never previously won less than four games at Skydome since 2001.
Here’s some startling news: The only other time the Yankees won only two games in a season at an AL East rival’s home field since the implementation of the Unbalanced Schedule 10 years ago was last season against the Red Sox at Fenway. Let’s hope they don’t tie that particular ignominious record, although given the way the Yankees have served as Toronto’s punching bag this season (the Jays have scored 80 runs in 16 games against the Yankees this year, or 5.0 runs per game), combined with continued uninspiring play from the Bombers (who are now 11-14 in September, their highest loss total of any month of the season) I’m not sure how hopeful I am.
Speaking of serving as someone’s punching bag, the Yankees need to completely overhaul their gameplan with regards to pitching to Vernon Wells, who prior to hitting his ridiculous 7th home run against New York pitching this season (I can’t imagine anyone has hit more) came into the game hitting .286/.365/.661 against the Yankees in 2010. That’s awful; and a big part of the reason why the Yankees have had so much trouble beating the Blue Jays this year. In fact, six of Wells’ seven bombs against the Yankees this year have come in Toronto victories. Maybe just pitch around him the next two days?
Even though the Yankees battled back to come within two runs A.J. Burnett certainly didn’t make this easy on his teammates, digging them a seven-run hole and departing after a mere 2 1/3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. According to Bryan Hoch, this start represented a Major League-leading 10th time this season he allowed six-plus runs. I don’t know what to say about Burnett anymore, other than that I’m almost reluctant to even use him as the fourth starter in the postseason. Unfortunately the team doesn’t have any superior options.
Though Burnett’s been an equal opportunity arsonist this season, he’s been particularly awful against the Blue Jays. Somehow he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings against them at home in early July, but even with that outing his cumulative line against Toronto this season is a disgusting 14.32. I don’t know what on earth has happened to Burnett this year, but something is going to need to click soon if the Yankees are going to prosper in the postseason.
In particular, Dave Eiland has his work cut out for him this offseason, as Burnett simply cannot go on pitching this poorly next season. If he’s carrying a 5.00-plus ERA into next June, the Yankees are going to be in an awfully tough spot. There’ll still be far too much money left on his deal to release him and it’s impossible to imagine anyone trading for that contract, but if he’s going out there every five days and burying the team after three innings that’s crippling to a team like the Yankees that’s going to be in an even tighter division race next season.
The bullpen deserves a gold star in this one for 5 2/3 innings of scoreless work, while Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira get props for each blasting home runs, but this game still stunk, considering the Yankees were facing the only bad starter the Jays have and had a chance to clinch their postseason berth. Alas, the champagne will have to wait another day.