Buehrle strong, but Oliver gives up walk-off single
Lefty yields just two runs as Blue Jays drop to 0-8 in Bronx this year
NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium is notoriously tough on opposing teams, but when it comes to the Blue Jays, the venue has turned into a scene ripped from the pages of a Hollywood horror script.
Toronto's woes in the Bronx continued on Tuesday as the club lost both games of a doubleheader in heartbreaking fashion. The first game was tough enough after blowing an early four-run lead, but the night affair was arguably even more difficult to take.
Left-hander Darren Oliver surrendered a walk-off single to Jayson Nix in the bottom of the ninth inning while the Blue Jays' offense continued to struggle in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees.
"I tip my hat to our guys, they're battling, they're hanging in every game, but we're just not winning them," said manager John Gibbons, whose team is now 26-34 in games decided by two runs or less.
"That's the way it goes. Sometimes you're not good enough. Any particular night, we're right there. We just can't put that extra run across and it's come back to haunt us."
The Blue Jays have now lost eight consecutive games to the Yankees and 11 straight at Yankee Stadium. They've also now lost 20 of their past 22 games on the road to New York and 22 of their last 26 since the start of the 2011 season.
The writing was on the wall late Tuesday night when Oliver appeared to pitch around leadoff hitter Mark Reynolds in the ninth inning. The veteran reliever walked Reynolds on four consecutive pitches and potentially overly cautious of the 16 home runs New York's infielder has this season.
New York opted to pinch-run Ichiro Suzuki, who was then bunted over to second before stealing third. That put Oliver in a dangerous situation, and three pitches later, the game was over as Nix came through with a solid single to left for the first walk-off hit of his career.
"It makes my job a lot easier," Nix said of the Ichiro stolen base. "I really wasn't trying to change my thinking too much once he did. Obviously I know I've just got to hit a fly ball, but with the infield in, I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit over the middle and not trying to do too much. It makes my job a lot easier when he takes that bag. It's huge."
Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle deserved a better fate and had yet another solid start as he continues to be the most consistent member of Toronto's starting staff. He allowed one run in the third on an RBI single by Robinson Cano and then retired the next 12 batters.
That streak carried Buehrle into the seventh inning, but with a lack of run support, all it took was one pitch to undo his outing. Buehrle served up a first-pitch cutter that Nix lifted high into the air and over the wall in left field for his third home run of the season.
Buehrle then surrendered a double to the left-field corner off the bat of Austin Romine. Buehrle was charged with the two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five over 6 2/3 innings. The southpaw has now allowed three runs or less in all but one of his past seven starts while posting a 2.63 ERA over that same span.
"One too many bad pitches, I guess," said Buehrle, who lowered his ERA to 4.23. "I threw some good pitches the whole game and a couple of mistakes I had, they didn't make me pay for it -- except for that one.
"Obviously the situation, if it was early in the game and I had given it up in a tied situation, it wouldn't have been that big of a deal. But knowing it's that late in the game and it's a battle back and forth, it's tougher to take."
Just like in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, the Blue Jays struck first. This time it was in the first inning, when Rajai Davis singled, stole second and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch by Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes.
Toronto added another run in the fifth when Munenori Kawasaki tripled and then scored on Davis' sacrifice fly. That was all the offense the Blue Jays could generate off Hughes, who was charged with the two runs on seven hits and two walks over six-plus frames.
The lack of runs resulted in a small margin for error, and one that came back to bite the Blue Jays in the ninth inning. Toronto dropped to 12-20 since the All-Star break and are nowhere close to where the club thought it would be at this point of the season.
"It's frustrating anytime you don't win," Buehrle said. "That's why I said it in Spring Training. I wasn't trying to downplay it, but all the hype and stuff, I dealt with it last year and that's why you have to go out and play these games, and that's kind of why I was saying it then."