Yankees fall, 6-0; lead over Orioles cut to one game with six to play
TORONTO -- One up, six to go.
With Ivan Nova again failing to come up big and the offense failing to come up with much of anything against Brandon Morrow and two relievers, the Yankees dropped a 6-0 decision to the Blue Jays Thursday night in front of 23,060 at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees (90-66), who have three games left here before finishing up the regular season with three against the Red Sox at the Stadium, had their AL East lead cut to one game over the idle Orioles, who begin a three-game series against Boston Friday night at Camden Yards.
"We know what's at stake right now,'' Nick Swisher said. "We haven't played extremely well in this ballpark this year [2-4] and we need to pick it up because we have somebody right on our tails.''
Nova (12-8, 5.02 ERA), in his third start since coming off the disabled list, made it two bad ones in a row. He lasted 21/3 innings in his previous start against the A's and -- with Joe Girardi employing a quick hook -- went 42/3 Thursday night, allowing four hits, six hits and two walks.
"It's tough,'' Nova said. "I'm working really hard, I'm just not getting the results I want . . . Especially right now, the position we're in, I'm not doing the job. We want to win every day and I'm not doing that.''
The start also was important in terms of Nova's chances of grabbing a spot on the roster for the postseason (assuming there is one for the Yankees). Nova, who was 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA in the first half, then went 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in eight starts after the All-Star break before hitting the DL, likely wasn't going to crack the rotation even with a good outing Thursday night. A bullpen spot, however, couldn't be ruled out, and probably still can't.
"I can't worry about that now,'' Girardi said of the postseason roster. "I wish I could worry about that now, but I can't. I have to worry about [Friday night's] game.''
Girardi said "I haven't made any changes'' in the rotation but didn't commit 100 percent to having Nova start against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. Asked if the Yankees' situation could be a factor in whether Nova starts that game, Girardi said, "We'll see. I'll worry about [Friday night]. That's five days away.''
Morrow allowed four hits in seven innings in improving to 9-7, 3.09. Robinson Cano had three hits and Russell Martin added two to account for the Yankees' five hits in the game. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Swisher said Morrow -- 4-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts) against the Yankees but facing them for the first time this season -- didn't throw as hard as usual.
"He's a guy who throws super-hard, but tonight it didn't feel like he was throwing like that,'' Swisher said. "Seemed like he was throwing a lot more off-speed pitches, working both sides of the plate. Have to give him credit. He did a good job.''
The Blue Jays (69-87) gave Morrow all the run support he would need in the third when Brett Lawrie slammed the first pitch he saw the other way for his 10th homer and a 2-0 lead.
Toronto padded the lead in the fifth, getting two runs on a double by Edwin Encarnacion, who had three hits and three RBIs. The double was the 87th extra-base hit allowed by Nova this season, a club record.
"I just think the result's frustrating,'' Martin said of failing to gain ground on idle Baltimore. "I'm not really concerned with other teams. I'm just concerned with our team.''