TORONTO — Luis Severino stood in front of his locker in a quiet Yankees clubhouse and produced a weary smile.
“Badly, I want it back,” he said of perhaps the only mistake he made Sunday, a hanging slider that became a two-out, two-run homer by Justin Smoak that tied the score in the sixth inning. “He got me.”
Tyler Clippard knows the feeling. The reliever also made one critical error, a fastball to former American League MVP Josh Donaldson that left the ballpark to start the bottom of the eighth.
The Yankees, who have won so many games with their power this season, died by that sword in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays in front of a sellout crowd of 46,782 at Rogers Centre. The Yankees (32-22) finished the trip 3-4.
“I think you could have said it would have been a good road trip if we had won today,” Joe Girardi said. “We had a chance to win Monday’s game [in Baltimore] and today’s game, so it was an OK road trip.”
The Blue Jays (28-29) split the series despite going 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the four games. They got six solid innings from former Patchogue-Medford star Marcus Stroman, who gave up two runs and five hits. Roberto Osuna struck out the side in the ninth for his 13th save, combining with Joe Smith to fan the final five Yankees batters.
Severino cruised into the sixth with a 2-0 lead, retired Donaldson and Jose Bautista on ground balls and had a 1-and-1 count on Kendrys Morales when it all fell apart for him. On consecutive pitches, Morales singled and Smoak hit his 14th homer, a mammoth blast to center. It snapped a streak of four games without a homer allowed by Severino, who gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
“He didn’t make a lot [of mistakes],” Girardi said. “When I look at his performance, it was pretty darn good. He just had a slider that didn’t do much. That’s going to happen.”
Severino was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his previous five starts, in which he walked nine and struck out 33.
“I thought me and Gary [Sanchez] were on the same page,” Severino said. “We threw a lot of changeups for strikes, the slider was good and I had fastball command. I’m a little disappointed with myself because I had the game in hand and we lost. I think if I throw a good pitch [to Smoak], I get a ground ball.”
Clippard (0-3) got a groundout on a fastball down and away when he faced Donaldson leading off the eighth inning Saturday. With the count full Sunday, he went with the same pitch.
“Didn’t locate it today,” he said.
Donaldson, who returned from the disabled list May 26, drove the ball just over the wall in right-center for a 3-2 lead. It was his fourth homer in five games.
“Any time you get a starter to pitch the way Sevy did today, you’ve got to win those games,” Clippard said. “But they played a good game as well. Obviously frustrating, but we’re playing good, so it’s not the end of the world. But that doesn’t ease the pain of the loss.”
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Aaron Judge singled, stole second, went to third when Luke Maile’s throw went into centerfield and scored on Matt Holliday’s double. Holliday beat out a double-play ball in the sixth to make it 2-0.
Though still in first place in the AL East, the Yankees are just 11-13 since reaching their high-water mark of 12 games over .500 (21-9) on May 8.
“We obviously haven’t been playing our best baseball the last week or two,” Brett Gardner said. “But we’re capable of picking things up a bit. Hopefully, going back home will do that.”