Yanks hope late rally is a sign of better things

Yanks hope late rally is a sign of better things

TORONTO -- The Yankees' bats seemed to be held up in customs until Brian McCann's long ninth-inning home run on Monday, a blast they hope indicates that a snooze plaguing most of their lineup is coming to an end.

McCann snapped a personal 0-for-21 skid with his two-run blast off Aaron Loup, then Mark Teixeira doubled off Drew Storen for his first extra-base hit since May 16. The hits weren't enough to avert a 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays, but the way things have been going, they'll take the rally as a sign of progress.

"We haven't been swinging the bats great," McCann said. "We have to continue to grind, continue to show up and get hot."

Six of the nine men in New York's lineup on Monday are trying to shake off cold spells, which made it a challenge to generate offense against Marco Estrada one night after they were limited to one hit by the Rays' Jake Odorizzi yet pulled out a victory at Tropicana Field.

"I think it's just one of those stretches. It happens," Teixeira said. "We faced a good pitcher yesterday and a good one again today. We'll just go out and try to score runs tomorrow."

In addition to McCann and Teixeira, Brett Gardner (2-for-29), Starlin Castro (2-for-25), Carlos Beltran (3-for-18) and Aaron Hicks (3-for-22) have been among those scuffling.

Hicks' double advances Castro

"It's difficult when you have two-thirds of your lineup not swinging the bat well," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's difficult to score runs. We've got to turn that around."

The order provided no support for Ivan Nova, who was unable to spot his sinker consistently and gave up four runs in six innings.

"You just have to go out there and try to put up zeros," Nova said. "You can't be worried about pitching and about the offense. The one thing I have to do is put zeros up there, and hopefully they'll score runs for me."

With the Yanks silenced through eight innings, Girardi pinch-hit for Gardner to open the ninth. There was no injury; Girardi believed Rob Refsnyder had a better chance of getting on base against the left-handed Loup. Refsnyder struck out.

"I don't have a problem with that," Gardner said. "I've always said, if you don't like getting pinch-hit for, play better. I haven't been swinging the bat well lately and completely understand it."

Girardi was asked if he considered using Alex Rodriguez -- in a 1-for-16 funk himself -- to pinch-hit for Chase Headley in the ninth. Girardi noted that lefties are 11-for-30 vs. Storen this season. Headley, representing the potential tying run, struck out.

"You look at the splits on Storen, you're going to put your lefties in there," Girardi said.

The recent results are reminiscent of the Yankees' April outages, which they thought had been mostly cured after rattling off 14 wins in 20 games beginning on May 4. Turns out there's still work to do.

"We haven't played our best baseball," McCann said. "We had a good two weeks, but we'll continue to come out here, continue to grind. Our best baseball is ahead of us."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. 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.