TORONTO (AP)—The Yankees arrived in Toronto for the start of a season-high 10-game trip, held a one-hour pregame meeting and followed with one of their flattest performances in a season that is spinning out of control.
“We’re not happy campers, there’s no question about that,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said following New York’s latest dismal defeat, 7-2 to the Blue Jays on Monday night.
“We’ve been scuffling for a while now and we need to get wins,” shortstop Derek Jeter said.
The Yankees fell 13 1/2 games back of AL East-leading Boston, their biggest deficit since August 1995, and have lost four straight and eight of 11. They dropped a season-high seven games under .500 and are tied with Tampa Bay for last in the AL East at 21-28.
New York is 7 1/2 games back of Detroit, the AL wild-card leader.
“In the end, all the guys in here believe that we can make the playoffs,” outfielder Johnny Damon said. “When we start walking around with our heads down, that’s when we need to start worrying. We know we have an uphill climb, there’s no question about it, but there’s no quit. We’re going to battle. Hopefully, in the end, there’s going to be a nice prize.”
Like Damon, Torre remains convinced that the postseason remains an attainable goal.
“I believe in the talent on this ballclub,” Torre said. “We’re digging ourselves a big hole and we’ve got to find a way to climb out of it. That’s basically my mind-set right now.”
“You have to keep working at it,” Torre added. “There’s no such thing as quit because that’s the last thing anybody wants to hear.”
New York had just five hits—two were infield singles—and was shut out until Hideki Matsui’s long two-run homer in the eighth, which landed on top of the center-field restaurant.
“I’m at a loss with the offense,” Torre said. “Hopefully, Matsui started something tonight because he’s really been struggling the past few days.”
Matt DeSalvo (1-2), among the rookies forced into the Yankees’ rotation because of injuries, gave up three runs, five hits and three walks 4 2-3 innings.
“That last inning I kind of got into a little funk and kind of lost control of the strike zone, especially with my fastball,” De Salvo said.
Roger Clemens pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a 2-0 victory over Toledo on Monday and his next start is likely to be with the Yankees.
“You can’t sit around and worry about when Rocket’s coming,” Jeter said. “Rocket’s not swinging the bats for us. Rocket pitches what, once every five days? You want him to do well. You want him to come here, but you can’t sit around and wait for him.”
McGowan (1-2) struck out a career-high seven and gave up five hits in 7 2-3 innings, the longest start of his major league career. He had been winless in four starts this season and entered with a 7.17 ERA.
“This kid completely shut us down, there’s no question,” Torre said. “We have to give him more credit than us blame.”
McGowan’s victory was his first in the major leagues since May 3 last year in relief at Boston and his third overall. His only other major league win as a starter was Aug. 9, 2005, against Detroit.
Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano all were 0-for-4. Doug Mientkiewicz was 0-for-3 and is hitting .224, and Melky Cabrera went 0-for-2, dropping his average to .215. Bobby Abreu (1-for-4) is hitting .233.
“Two runs for us, that’s not acceptable,” Damon said. “Our offense is much better than that. It starts from the top. If I can get going, it makes everybody else’s job a lot easier.”
Overbay, who had three hits, homered to put Toronto ahead 1-0 in the third. Batting in the eighth and needing a triple for the cycle, he struck out on three pitches against Mike Myers.
Toronto broke the game open with four runs in the seventh. Glaus hit a bases-loaded RBI single off Ron Villone, who then walked Frank Thomas with the bases loaded. Myers relieved, and Hill hit a two-run single.
Cano’s hitting streak was stopped at 11 games. … Torre said the Yankees are considering giving Jason Giambi a cortisone shot in his sore left heel. If they do, it would likely happen Wednesday, giving Giambi a chance to rest on Thursday’ off-day. He is in a 4-for-44 slide since May 5 with one homer and one RBI.