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Walks get Yanks into trouble against Blue Jays

Pitching combines to issue 10 free passes; Youk homer highlights offense

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays scored early and often against a Yankees pitching staff that had trouble finding the strike zone en route to a 17-5 victory on Thursday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Field.

Toronto scored nine in the first, six in the second and one in both the third and fourth innings to jump out to an early 17-1 lead. Maicer Izturis and Melky Cabrera led the way by combining to drive in nine runs while utility player Mark DeRosa chipped in with his second home run of the spring.

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The damage started in the first off Yankees starter Jose Ramirez, who walked four of the first seven batters he faced. Ramirez also surrendered an RBI double to Cabrera and RBI single to DeRosa before being chased with just one out in the frame. He was charged with six runs on two hits and four walks.

Adam Warren came on in relief, but that did little to change the momentum. Warren surrendered a bases-clearing double to Izturis in the first before walking three Blue Jays players in the second, another ugly inning on the mound for the Yankees.

"It's a tough game to watch," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Some guys had some decent at-bats, which was good. There weren't a lot of great things today."

Izturis and Cabrera each had an RBI knock in the second, and Jose Bautista followed with a two-run double. Warren was unable to finish the second and was charged with eight runs on four hits and five walks while striking out two in 1 1/3 innings.

The Yankees' inability to throw strikes led to Toronto's most productive day at the plate this spring. Through the first four innings of the game, all 10 of the Blue Jays issued walks had come around to score and left Mike McCoy as the only member of Toronto's starting nine that didn't reach base at least once.

Right-hander Josh Johnson got the start for Toronto, and he had an impressive performance on the mound. Despite the lengthy delays between innings, Johnson surrendered one run on two hits while striking out five in three innings.

The lone mistake Johnson made came in the first inning, when he served up a two-seam fastball to Kevin Youkilis that was sent over the wall in left for a solo homer. Besides that, Johnson commanded his pitches well. He has yet to walk a batter in 10 2/3 spring innings.

"It's something that hopefully I can get used to this year," Johnson said of the run support. "I don't think I've ever been through something like that. That was crazy, especially first inning to come out and do that.

"It was awesome, but not fun at the same time. You want to get out there, find that rhythm and tempo, it was kind of here and there but it was a good outing overall."

Up next: CC Sabathia will be on the mound to make his spring debut as the Yankees welcome the Marlins for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field, live on MLB.TV. Sabathia will be pitching in a game for the first time since having left elbow surgery to remove a bone spur following last season's playoffs. Yankees captain Derek Jeter is expected to be in the lineup, making his second start of the spring at shortstop.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

New York Yankees, Jose Ramirez, Adam Warren, Kevin Youkilis