Tension and frustration must be setting in for Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the Yankees after a gut-wrenching loss to the Blue Jays. (Image: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Tension Building: Yankees fall into first-place tie after loss to Blue Jays

The New York Yankees would never admit it, but the tension is building around them as the season winds down and the chances for victory dwindle. Frustration must be setting in too as the Yankees not only lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, but lost sole possession of first place as the Baltimore Orioles beat the hapless Boston Red Sox forcing a tie atop the AL East.

The Yankees failed yesterday afternoon to fully capitalize on two separate bases loaded with zero outs situations; coming away with just two runs both via sac flies in the first inning. They could have knocked Toronto starter Ricky Romero around with just a couple of hits in that frame, but settled for run-producing outs.

Andy Pettitte was average in his third start since coming off the disabled list and final outing of the regular season. He allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Pettitte gave a run right back in the bottom of the first on a home run by Rajai Davis.

While far from dominant, the effort should have been enough considering the multitude of chances the Yankees had rack up some runs. The Yanks had the bases juiced again in the third with no one out. Romero was on the ropes and wiggled out of trouble even after he sustained an injury to his left knee with one out during the frame which prevented him from coming back in the fourth. But before he left, he was able to strike out Andruw Jones, who is now hitting .143 since the All-Star break and yet is still receiving starts. Romero was aided by his defense next as Eduardo Nunez lined out to Adeiny Hechavarria at second base to end the threat. The Yankees would go 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but neither of the two hits actually drove in a run.

The Blue Jays tied it up in the fifth and took the lead in the sixth on Hechavarria’s double off Joba Chamberlain scoring Yunel Escobar, who Pettitte allowed on base with a walk to begin the inning. The Yankees twice had runners removed from the bases; once on a pickoff (Ichiro Suzuki) in the seventh and the other a straight caught-stealing (Brett Gardner) in the eighth. Toronto closer Casey Janssen finished off the game with a scoreless ninth inning retiring Alex Rodriguez on a fly out with Suzuki on first base for the final out.

In the series finale, the Yankees send Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.10 ERA) to the hill to face Toronto’s Henderson Alvarez (9-14, 4.91 ERA).

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