CLEVELAND -- Scoreboard watching can seem practically mandatory in a big league facility, where the oversized out-of-town numbers dwarf the outfielders on duty. As such, the Yankees knew exactly what their 2-1 loss to the Indians meant, having simultaneously tracked Wednesday's action north of the border.
Combined with the Blue Jays' 10-3 victory over the Athletics at Rogers Centre, the Yankees fell out of first place in the American League East for the first time since July 1. New York's losing skid reached five games as it flushed what had been a seven-game lead in the division as recently as July 28.
"It's hard to believe," designated hitter Alex Rodriguez said. "Obviously we can't control what they do over there or what any team does in the American League East. We have to worry about what we do. Whether we had a five-game lead or whether we're tied, we still have to play good baseball."
Now trailing Toronto by a half-game, the Yankees managed just four hits in Cleveland on Wednesday. Their output has been a far cry from the gleeful wrecking crew that produced 90 runs over a 10-game span from July 25 to Aug. 4.
Since then, the Yanks have produced nine runs in seven games, losing six of those contests. Their only run on Wednesday came on Brian McCann's second-inning homer off Cleveland starter Danny Salazar, who pitched into the eighth inning while striking out eight.
"It is what it is. We haven't been swinging the bats well," McCann said. "So you know, it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing. Just need to come in tomorrow and continue to grind out at-bats."
Manager Joe Girardi noted that the Yankees have lost three of the games in their recent slide by a 2-1 score, so at least the pitchers have been doing their jobs. CC Sabathia battled to hold Cleveland to two runs over six innings, but he still was handed a tough-luck defeat.
"We've had a chance to win a lot of these games that we've lost," Girardi said. "Our offense will turn around and we'll start scoring runs again. Right now we're in a little rut."
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have seemed unstoppable, improving Wednesday to a perfect 13-0 when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup.
Three of those victories came during last weekend's sweep in the Bronx, and the Yankees hope to salvage a victory on Thursday to create some momentum heading into their rematch in Toronto -- a team they still have 10 games remaining against.
"It's a long season. We know what we have ahead of us," Sabathia said. "We still have a lot of games against Toronto, so hopefully we can turn it around."
Girardi rejected the idea that falling into second place had any greater meaning than changing the order of the flags for at least an evening.
"Besides what it is? No," Girardi said. "It's going to come down to what we do the next 50 games or whatever we've got left. We knew we were in a battle before today started. We're still in it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.