Yankees thwarted by missed opportunities

Yankees thwarted by missed opportunities

Yankees thwarted by missed opportunities
TORONTO -- New York's offense has turned cold, and its first trip to Canada certainly didn't heat things up.

The Yankees lost their third straight game Thursday, after hitting a combined 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position over their two-game set in Toronto.

Phil Hughes did his best to keep New York in the game, but the bats couldn't muster much off Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison in a 4-1 loss at Rogers Centre. It was the first time the club has been swept -- albeit in a two-game set -- since the opening series of the year.

"Offenses are going to go through that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about his team, which is 3-for-41 with runners in scoring position in its last five games. "Every offense is going to go through that. It's no fun when you're going through it, guys don't look like they are having fun. But they're doing their work, and it will change.

"The important thing is that they stay positive and don't get too focused on their struggles. They understand that, keep putting them on and eventually this is going to turn and we will get out of this. ... The game of baseball can be an extremely frustrating game."

Aside from a Robinson Cano double that scored Curtis Granderson with one out in the first -- to put New York ahead, 1-0 -- the Yankees did nothing against the 21-year-old Hutchison, whom they were seeing for the first time. Cano and Granderson were the only Yankees to collect more than one hit in the series.

The three straight losses match the worst skid of the season, and the Yanks have lost four of their past five overall. New York dropped to 1-14 in games in which it scores three runs or fewer.

Girardi called his club a home run-hitting team, but the Yankees failed to go deep once at Rogers Centre, while Toronto hit six in two games.

Hughes and Girardi both felt that the 25-year-old battled without his best stuff, but the right-hander managed to keep the score close and made some big pitches when he needed to, including to the player who capitalized on Hughes' biggest blemish.

After striking out Jose Bautista in the first on a 94-mph fastball, Hughes decided to attack the Blue Jays slugger differently the second time around, falling behind, 3-0, before battling back to make the count full.

Bautista then fouled off two straight four-seamers -- one which hooked foul but landed in the upper deck -- before Hughes threw him a 3-2 cutter that Bautista hit a mile high and just far enough to clear the fence in left and give Toronto a 2-1 lead. It was Bautista's 10th homer of the year and his fifth in his past seven games.

"I felt like he had seen a lot of fastballs and thought it was a good pitch to throw him, but it was kind of spinning over the plate, not down and away where I would have liked to have it," Hughes said.

Hughes, who fell to 3-5 with the loss, lasted into the sixth inning, before being relieved by Cory Wade, and struck out five while issuing seven hits and two walks. Girardi was hoping Hughes would use this game as a confidence booster, saying that he proved he can keep the score close against a tough-hitting ballclub when his best stuff is absent.

Wade served up the second homer of the night, which capped the Blue Jays' assault on Yankees pitchers over the mini series.

With one on and two out, Wade threw catcher J.P. Arencibia an 0-1 changeup that he deposited in the seats in left to provide the insurance for Hutchison and put Toronto ahead, 4-1.

"I was able to bear down and just make a pitch," said Hutchison, who lasted six innings and improved to 3-1 on the year. "There were a couple of situations where I was able to step back, calm myself down and make a pitch to get out of it."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter tipped his cap to Hutchison after the game and felt that too much was being made of the offense and his team's struggles.

"You will start driving yourself crazy if you start looking at the scoreboard in the middle of May," said Jeter, who went 1-for-4 and is batting a team-best .363. "I don't see anyone popping champagne in the middle of May, just like I don't see anyone hanging their heads in the middle of May. We need to play better, that's the bottom line. But it's way too early to look at the standings."

The loss dropped the Yankees to fourth place in the American League East, and they are 9-9 against their divisional rivals this season after playing each team at least once.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.