Alex Rodriguez is used to hearing people boo him. Hearing cheers on the road, however, probably wasn’t what he was looking for.
The reigning AL MVP made his 17th error in the series opener, a 5-4, 11-inning loss Thursday for New York that ended with a walk-off home run by Toronto’s Vernon Wells.
Reed Johnson had a one-out single in the sixth with the Yankees (55-38) leading 3-0, and Rodriguez overthrew catcher Jorge Posada in an attempt to prevent Aaron Hill from scoring. The error triggered a four-run rally for the Blue Jays (53-42) that contributed to Yankees starter Mike Mussina not getting his 12th victory.
“It’s frustrating. Obviously, you want the inning to stop. (Mike Mussina) was throwing such a good game,” said Rodriguez, who is hitting 4-for-24 (.167) in his last six road games.
Mussina, who had allowed just two hits the first five innings, was clearly frustrated after the game.
“I know he’s played better. I know he’s disappointed in the way he’s playing. It’s just not him right now. We need him back the way he’s supposed to be,” Mussina said. “I thought he was going to throw to first and then I turn and saw him throw it to home. All he had to do was throw it on target and he was out by 20 feet.”
Yankees manager Joe Torre defended his third baseman on the play, but did concede Rodriguez must fix his mechanical flaws.
“He made the right play, I thought,” Torre said. “It looked like he never hesitated. I didn’t get any indecision on his part. It looked like the ball kind of sailed on him.
“When he’s on top the ball is going to be truer. “It’s the same thing as a pitcher throwing sidearm. You’re going to see more movement on the ball.”
On Friday, the Yankees hand the ball to Jaret Wright (6-4, 4.29 ERA), who looks to win three consecutive starts for the first time since 2004. Wright’s starts haven’t been spectacular or particularly effective this season, but he’s been backed by solid run support and a strong bullpen.
In his last start on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox, Wright pitched 5 1-3 innings, giving up three runs and eight hits in the 6-4 win.
Wright is 1-5 with a 9.17 ERA in nine starts against the Blue Jays. He gave up four runs in five innings in his last start against them on April 28, walking four in a 7-2 loss.
Toronto will counter with A.J. Burnett (1-3, 4.25), who is trying to regain his form since coming off the disabled list on June 22. The right-hander has been inconsistent since rejoining the team, but is coming off one of his better starts from Sunday, when he held the Seattle Mariners to two runs in seven innings while striking out seven.
Burnett, who is 1-2 with a 3.62 ERA in five starts since coming off the disabled list, did not get a decision in Toronto’s 4-3, 11-inning win.
“This time it’s not about individual wins,” Burnett said. “It was a good ball game. All around it was a good win for us.”
Burnett’s only appearance against the Yankees came in 2001 when he was with the Florida Marlins. He gave up three runs in six innings of a 9-3 win.
Toronto is now within three games of second-place New York.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
- Rendon drives in 10, hits 3 HRs as Nationals rout Mets 23-5
- Blue Jays win 2 in row for 1st time this year, top Rays 3-1
- Who's on first? Mitchell, as O's top Yanks 7-4 in 11 innings
- Brantley, Lindor spark 8-run 3rd as Indians rout Mariners
- Sano powers Twins past slumping Royals 7-5