Sloppy infield defense leads to Yankees' messy loss to Blue Jays

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) is greeted
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Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) is greeted by catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) after hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, July 27, 2014.(Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

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It was shaping up as the same old story for the Yankees which, since the All-Star break, had meant one with a good ending.

There was very little output by the offense but more stellar work from a fill-in starter, this time from the newly acquired Chris Capuano.

But another season-long story line -- lousy infield defense -- reared its ugly head Saturday in the seventh inning. The slapstick-looking performance, first by substitute first baseman Brian McCann and then second baseman Brian Roberts, led to the go-ahead run as the Blue Jays finally won a game at the Stadium with a 6-4 victory in front of 46,166.

"That hurt us, it definitely hurt us," Joe Girardi said. "For Mac, it's inexperience. With what we have going on with [Mark Teixeira], we really don't have a first baseman . . . the one to Brian, just a tricky play."

The Yankees (54-49) fell to 7-2 on this 10-game homestand, and the Blue Jays (55-50) snapped a 17-game losing streak at the Stadium which dated to Aug. 29, 2012.

With the score tied at 2 in the seventh, righthander Shawn Kelley took over for Capuano and promptly walked Melky Cabrera on five pitches. Jose Bautista, who homered twice on Friday night, doubled into the leftfield corner, bringing Dioner Navarro to the plate with runners at second and third.

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The slow-footed catcher hit a grounder to McCann, who has been filling in at first while Teixeira is out (the Yankees hope not for too much longer) with a strained lat. McCann took a couple of steps in and looked at Cabrera, who strayed off third. McCann, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, froze, giving Navarro a chance to slip past and reach first. McCann, who said he should have immediately "touched first," eventually threw to second trying for, but not getting, Bautista, loading the bases.

"We have to get an out there," Girardi said. "But he's extremely inexperienced over there. It's not a play you see every day."

Said McCann: "It was the first time I'd seen it from that angle. I wish I could have slowed the game down a little bit. The game sped up on me a little bit."

But, to that point, the scored was still 2-2.

Kelley did strike out Steve Tolleson and Girardi called on lefty Matt Thornton to face the lefthanded-hitting Dan Johnson. The designated hitter got ahead 1-and-0 before hitting a soft blooper toward second that hit the ground in front of Roberts and spun away from him. Roberts, who leads the team with 10 errors but wasn't charged with one on the fluky play, mishandled the ball, allowing Cabrera to score the go-ahead run.

Johnson's three-run homer in the ninth off Yankees lefthander Jeff Francis made it 6-2.

"Maybe it's a play I'm supposed to make but it didn't happen," Roberts said. "That ball has so much spin on it when you hit it like that. You don't know what it's going to do."

Thornton didn't blame Roberts.

"When you take a full swing and the ball goes only 65 feet, the defense is going to flinch a little bit," Thornton said. "That's just one of those plays that's a tough break, it changes the game a little bit right there . . . Dan was able to put a ball in the perfect spot."

Carlos Beltran's two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Casey Janssen made it 6-4.

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Toronto righthander Drew Hutchison, who entered 6-9 with a 4.54 ERA, allowed two runs and five hits in 62/3 innings Saturday, then gave way to lefty Aaron Loup (11/3 scoreless) and Casey Janssen, who pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Yankees' offensive struggles continued as they went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.

"His fastball seems to get on you quicker than you'd think it would," Girardi said of Hutchison. "He pitched up effectively."

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