The Yankees took a break from the chaotic American League playoff race with a leisurely 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. In a game played with as much intensity and crowd interest as you’d expect in the early Spring, the Yankees frittered away an opportunity to take a two game lead in the A.L. East.
Considering the lopsided pitching matchup, the Yankees seemed to be playing from behind before the first pitch. Unfortunately, Ivan Nova did little to dispel that impression. The right hander allowed a two-run homer in the third and two-run double in fifth, which not only put his team behind 4-0, but also set a new franchise record for most extra bases hits allowed in a season. The 87 extra base hits allowed by Nova surpassed Andy Hawkins’ previous record of 86, which was set in 1989. Needless to say, that’s not the kind of anchor the Yankees were hoping Nova would become.
To be fair, it probably wouldn’t have mattered whom the Yankees pitched because Brandon Morrow continued his string of dominance over the Bronx Bombers in Toronto by throwing seven shutout innings. In five career starts against the Yankees at Rogers Centre, the hard throwing righty is now 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 34 2/3 innings. Maybe by throwing Nova to the wolf, there was a method to Girardi’s madness after all?
Although Morrow was efficient, he wasn’t overpowering. In fact, the Yankees had a base runner in every inning but the second, but could never break through against the right hander. For the most part, Morrow seemed to bear down with runners on base, but in the fourth inning, he needed a great running catch by left fielder Anthony Gose to escape unscathed. Otherwise, it was lackluster performance by the Yankee bats, who were shutout for the sixth time this season.
With a one game lead and six remaining, the conclusion to this season promises to be memorable. Unfortunately, a very forgettable game got in the way. Then again, if the Yankees lose the division by that game, it could be the one that haunts them.