Saturday, July 22, 2006

Two Milestones, One Loss

Poor starting pitching, inconsistent offense and shaky defense isn't exactly a formula for success, so it's no wonder that the Yankees had a tough time against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday night.
Jaret Wright was roughed up for five runs in 2 2/3 innings, New York managed just two singles after the third inning and Alex Rodriguez made yet another error, as Toronto cruised to a 7-3 victory.

The loss was the third in a row for the Yankees, who suddenly find themselves trying to hold off the surging Blue Jays for second place in the American League East.

Burnett allowed three runs over 7 1/3 innings, retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced to earn his second win of the season.

Burnett's lone mistake of the night came against Rodriguez, who collected both his 2,000th hit and 450th home run with one swing in the third inning.

"[To get] 450 and 2,000 at the same time, that's unique," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately I couldn't do it in a win, but I'm still going to enjoy it."

The Blue Jays opened the game with an assault on Wright, as the first five hitters reached base safely. Reed Johnson doubled, Frank Catalanotto singled and Vernon Wells walked, loading the bases with no outs.

Troy Glaus singled in two runs, while Lyle Overbay doubled in two more, giving Toronto a 4-0 lead before Wright knew what hit him. He retired the next three batters, but the damage had been done.

Burnett, on the other hand, worked through the first two frames with relative ease. He ran into some trouble in the third, as A-Rod blasted a three-run homer to left field, cutting the Jays' lead to one run.

Rodriguez became the youngest player in baseball history to reach the 450-homer mark, and just the eighth to get 2,000 hits before his 31st birthday, joining Ty Cobb (29), Rogers Hornsby (29), Mel Ott (30), Hank Aaron (30), Joe Medwick (30), Jimmie Foxx (30) and Robin Yount (30).

Wright was yanked from the game in the bottom of the third after giving one of the runs back following a leadoff walk.

Shawn Chacon came in and escaped the bases-loaded jam, but he issued a leadoff walk of his own in the fourth, as Toronto scored again to take a 6-3 lead.

In that fourth inning, Rodriguez lost a popup in the sky in foul territory, as it dropped to the turf, prolonging Wells' at-bat. No error was charged to Rodriguez, but during the same at-bat, Wells grounded a ball to third, where A-Rod fielded it and made a bad throw to first, committing his 18th error of the season and fifth in five days.

The three-run cushion was plenty for Burnett, who retired 14 of the next 15 batters after Rodriguez's home run. Jeter singled with one out in the eighth, ending Burnett's night, but Scott Schoeneweis retired the final five batters to close out the win.

The Blue Jays are now just two games behind the Yankees for second place in the AL East, with two more games to go against each other this weekend.

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