Damon misplays fly in eighth to help Jays win
Damon allowed two balls to glance off his glove, including an eighth-inning drive by Marco Scutaro that became the go-ahead double in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2-1 victory over New York on Tuesday night.
“I missed two balls tonight and that’s unacceptable,” Damon said. “I know that stuff happens sometimes, but catching routine fly balls should not be that much of a problem.”
A.J. Burnett won his sixth straight start, and first baseman Lyle Overbay helped preserve the lead in the top of the ninth when he made a brilliant throw to get Alex Rodriguez trying to stretch a leadoff hit into a double.
New York, which got Hideki Matsui back from the 15-day DL, dropped 11 games back of Tampa Bay, the Yankees’ largest division deficit this season. New York, whose streak of postseason appearances could end at 13, fell 6 1/2 behind Boston in the wild-card race.
“We’re still fighting for our division,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Every night that you lose, it makes it more difficult.”
With the score tied 1-all in the eighth, Joe Inglett hit a two-out single to center field off Jose Veras (3-2). Scutaro followed with a deep drive to center. Damon, the center fielder, ran back to the warning track and stopped, then jumped, only to have the ball tick off the top of his glove and off the wall, allowing Inglett to score.
“I just didn’t get back far enough maybe on that last one and made myself have to jump,” Damon said. “When you do that, your head shakes a bit. I couldn’t believe I didn’t come down with it, especially in that situation and especially twice in the game. We need to make plays, especially routine plays.”
Disgusted, Damon took off his glove and tossed it to the ground after throwing the ball to the infield. Damon was playing in center for just the 10th time this season. He also made 68 starts in left.
“If this team is going to use me in center more, I need to be better,” Damon said. “That’s uncharacteristic of me and most center fielders in the league.”
It was the second time in the game that Damon had a ball bounce off his glove. He also dropped Alex Rios’ fly ball in the first and was charged with a two-base error.
Blue Jays stopper B.J. Ryan got an assist from Overbay in closing out the Yankees.
Rodriguez led off the ninth with a flare down the right-field line that bounced off the turf and into foul territory. Overbay chased the ball down, sliding on a knee to grab it before it went off the wall, and made a strong throw to second as he popped off the ground to nab A-Rod as he slid in headfirst.
After striking out in his first three at-bats, Rodriguez said he wanted to “push the envelope a little bit,” never expecting Overbay would reach the ball so quickly.
“I really had no idea that he would throw me out,” Rodriguez said. “He made an unbelievable play. I saw it on the replay. He slid on his knees, barehanded it and threw a strike. The way we’re swinging the bats right now, I thought being aggressive was the best option.”
Ryan got the final two outs without further trouble for his 24th save in 27 opportunities.
Burnett (16-9) allowed one run and five hits in eight innings and has won seven straight home starts. He struck out a season-high 13, the 21st time in his career he has posted double-digit strikeouts.
“Give him credit, he was 0-2 on everybody throwing in the high- to mid-90s and he had a snake for a breaking ball,” Rodriguez said.
Burnett, 3-0 against New York this year, can become a free agent at the end of the season.
“He’s a real good pitcher,” Damon said. “I hope he opts out of his deal.”
Matsui returned to the Yankees lineup after missing 50 games with a sore left knee. Starting as the designated hitter and batting seventh, he finished 0-for-3.
“He looked fine to me,” Girardi said. “I’ll be interested to see how he feels tomorrow after being on the turf.”
“It was a 3-2 count and I didn’t want to walk him,” Rasner said. “It was a cutter and it got a little inside. He did a good job of keeping it fair.”
Damon scored the lone New York run in the first, leading off with a walk and scoring when Bobby Abreu lined a double down the third-base line.
Damon’s first-inning error put Toronto runners at second and third with one out, but Rasner struck out Vernon Wells and got Lind to ground out.
Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain (rotator cuff tendinitis) played catch for the second straight day Tuesday. He’ll take Wednesday off and play catch again Thursday, then throw a bullpen session Saturday in Baltimore. … Girardi said he will announce Thursday whether RHP Carl Pavano or RHP Phil Hughes will start against the Orioles on Saturday. … Toronto LHP Scott Downs, who sprained his ankle last Wednesday, is ready to pitch again, manager Cito Gaston said. … Former Blue Jay Roberto Alomar attended the game.