Yanks denied sweep as bullpen can't hold lead
Logan, Phelps allow key hits, while offense comes up empty late
TORONTO -- For the second consecutive game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi's bullpen let him down after being handed a multi-run lead.
But unlike Saturday's extra-inning victory, the offense wasn't able to bail the 'pen out as the Yankees were denied a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
David Phelps surrendered a game-winning double during a four-run sixth inning for Toronto and the Yankees fell, 8-4, in front of 45,575 at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
"I have to do better, that's all it boils down to," said Phelps, who has allowed three earned runs in each of his last two appearances. "[I'm] just not really getting the job done right now."
With the Yankees ahead, 4-2, in the sixth, Girardi elected to play the matchups after starter Ivan Nova allowed the first two runners to reach. Girardi brought in Boone Logan for the lefty-lefty matchup against Colby Rasmus.
The skipper did the same thing in Saturday's game and it worked -- Logan punched out Rasmus on eight pitches in the ninth -- but on Sunday, Rasmus delivered. He hit an RBI single that cut New York's lead to one run before Brett Lawrie followed with a two-run double off Phelps to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 advantage.
"I felt the enthusiasm in the building," Lawrie said. "You could hear 46,000 screaming. It pumps me up, I know it pumps all of these guys up, too. It was really great to have all of the fans out and hopefully they keep coming out for us."
Girardi was not going to second-guess the decision of leaning on Logan, not when he entered the game holding Rasmus hitless in six career at-bats, while striking him out four times.
"He was coming in for Rasmus," Girardi said.
Phelps allowed another run on an RBI single by Melky Cabrera and the Yankees left the inning down two after starting the frame up a pair. Phelps put them in an even bigger hole the following inning by giving up a two-run homer to catcher J.P. Arencibia that put the Blue Jays ahead, 8-4, and the game out of reach.
"He's making mistakes in the middle of the plate," Girardi said of Phelps. "He's a guy that is pretty good with living on the edges and he's not doing it right now."
Phelps has allowed runs in four of his five appearances and said he is struggling to work the corners. The home run Arencibia hit was a fastball down the heart of the plate.
In Saturday's game, reliever David Robertson relinquished a three-run lead before New York capitalized on a throwing error to score a pair of runs, then turned to Mariano Rivera to close things out in the 11th.
There was no late-inning runs on Sunday, though, as New York's offense had no answer to Toronto's sixth-inning eruption.
Nova wasn't sharp, either, lasting five-plus innings and allowing four runs on seven hits, while walking four and striking out five. He has yet to complete five innings in any of his three starts this season.
Things were shaky for the right-hander from the start, as he needed 32 pitches to get out of the first, but was fortunate to escape trailing just 1-0.
Nova, who labored for much of his outing, was helped out multiple times from his defense. The 26-year-old, who allowed a run in each of the first two innings, threw just 56 of his 101 pitches for strikes and the four walks he surrendered were a season high.
One of the big issues, Nova said, was that he had trouble repeating his delivery, while catcher Chris Stewart -- who hit his first homer of the season -- added that Nova didn't have a good feel for any pitch consistently, especially his two-seam fastball, which is a key weapon.
"He'll throw one pitch down and away and the next pitch will be up and in," said Stewart, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored. "You have to be able to repeat what you need to do and if you don't, you're going to get in trouble."
The Yankees hit Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson well, chasing him after 5 1/3 innings of four-run ball. The right-hander surrendered eight hits while walking three and striking and four.
Stewart put the Yankees on the board, cutting Toronto's lead in half by leading off the third with a homer off the foul pole in left field. The catcher worked the count full before drilling the laser shot on a 95-mph fastball from Johnson.
After Johnson's first clean inning in the fourth, the Yankees got to him again in the fifth. Stewart started the rally with a base hit before Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Johnson got Travis Hafner to pop up for the second out before issuing consecutive bases-loaded walks which put New York ahead, 3-2.
The Yankees didn't hold that lead for long, however, and couldn't mount a comeback against Toronto's bullpen, which threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
Girardi was still happy to take two of three from the Blue Jays, and his club has not lost a series since dropping its first two of the season.
"Our goal is take every series and if you can do that, you're going to be in good shape in September," Girardi said. "It's not the way you want to leave but ... this place can be tough to play and our guys did a pretty good job."