Blue Jays fall to Yanks on Lind's error in ninth
Bautista hits game-tying homer in eighth before first baseman's miscue
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said this four-game series against the Yankees means more than just a battle for second place in the American League East -- which the Orioles clinched on Tuesday -- and that it is important to finish the season strong.
Both Toronto and New York came into Thursday's game with identical records and faint hopes for the postseason, and the Blue Jays were dealt another heartbreaking defeat. This time, an error by first baseman Adam Lind in the ninth had the Yankees celebrating a 3-2 walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium.
Chris Young began the inning with a single off reliever Aaron Sanchez. Pinch-runner Antoan Richardson then stole second base and was bunted to third by Brett Gardner before Lind was unable to handle a grounder off the bat of Chase Headley.
Lind said he did not peek toward Richardson at third base. In fact, he did not have enough time to because the ball was hit right at him.
"I don't know," he said. "It happened so fast. Basically, I did not make the play."
This latest blow to the Blue Jays' postseason hopes kept them six games behind the A's for the second American League Wild card spot. Toronto would have to jump four teams, including the Yankees, with 10 games to play.
The Blue Jays have been a streaky team all season long, leading the division after a strong April and May before fading in the second half. But they insist that these games down the stretch are far from meaningless, even if they are no longer mathematically alive.
"There's always something to play for, always," said R.A. Dickey, Thursday's starter. "You're not just going through the motions out there, you're playing for something, whether it's the future, whether it's a goal that you set for yourself, whatever it is. The hope is that nobody's mailing it in and guys are still playing with heart."
Thursday's loss stung even harder knowing that the Blue Jays had come back from a 2-0 deficit. They were kept off the board until the eighth inning, when a two-out single by Jose Reyes extended the inning for Jose Bautista, who crushed a two-run homer -- No. 33 on the year -- to left field off Shawn Kelley to tie the game.
Bautista, who slammed his bat to the ground after watching the ball sail over the fence, has now homered in four consecutive games against the Yankees.
That was all Toronto's suddenly scuffling offense could muster, however. The Blue Jays have scored just seven runs through the first four games (0-4) of this seven-game road trip and have now lost six out of their last seven games.
Gibbons tried to provide a spark by using his bench with three pinch-hitters, but the bats remained cold.
"We're just not getting a lot of hits," Gibbons said.
Dickey mostly held New York in check during his six innings of work, surrendering runs on an RBI double by Stephen Drew in the fifth and a solo home run by Derek Jeter in the sixth. He threw only 89 pitches, but when Dioner Navarro pinch-hit for Dickey's personal catcher, Josh Thole, in the seventh, it forced Dickey out of the game as well.
By getting the first out in the fourth inning, Dickey surpassed 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season. He has thrown the fifth-most innings in baseball since 2011.
"It means that you've been consistent," Dickey said. "And that's a goal that, at the beginning of every year, that I hope for -- to be trustworthy and consistent."
His counterpart, Shane Greene, was strong for the Yankees. He stifled Toronto through 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six and not allowing a run.
"One of those games, neither team is getting a lot of hits ... tough way to lose a game no doubt," Gibbons said. "They're all tough."