The morning began with Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher Mark Buehrle taking a group of the team’s younger players out to a favored tailor in Manhattan where he purchased them all new suits.
Later in the day, once at the ball yard, John Gibbons decided to cancel batting practice for his team.
The Toronto manager groused that his players did not need to be subjected to all the bumph surrounding the rich New York baseball tradition that is pumped incessantly over the public address system prior to every game here at Yankee Stadium.
When it comes to coming to New York to try to beat the Yankees, nothing is routine these days for the Toronto Blue Jays, except for the outcome.
Not since Aug. 29, 2012, have the Blue Jays tasted victory in The Bronx.
Since then the Blue Jays had lost a franchise record 16 consecutive games heading into Friday night’s game, the first of a key three-game series against their American League East foe.
“The law of averages say you’ve got to win one,” Gibbons said, somewhat hopefully, before his team took the field.
Well, the law was wrong – again.
Despite a two-home run night from Jose Bautista and 10-game winner Buehrle on the mound, the Blue Jays (54-50) were once again left demoralized, losing for the 17th straight occasion on Yankee turf, this time by a score of 6-4.
All this abject failure in New York is having a serious affect on Toronto’s hopes of contending for the playoffs this season.
With the loss in the first of the three-game series, the Blue Jays dropped into third place in the A.L. East standing, one full game behind the Yankees (54-48).
The day began on a bright note for some of the players like rookie pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who was told by Buehrle on the plane ride down to New York to meet him in the lobby of the team hotel at 10 a.m.
Also receiving invitations were Marcus Stroman, Ryan Goins, Rob Rasmussen, all rookies on the club, along with pitcher Todd Redmond, who is in his third season.
The players had no idea what was going on until Buehrle showed up at the appointed hour and told them the were going out to a local haberdashery he is known to frequent to buy suits – on him.
“He said, ‘Pick whatever you want,’” said Stroman, obviously quite excited about the trim little double-breasted unit he decided on.
“It’s pretty fresh,” he said.
Stroman said he did not know how much money his suit cost but said all the players appreciated Buehrle’s generous gesture.
“He’s like an old school guy,” Stroman said. “He said in his first year he had someone do it, I forgot who he said, one of the veteran guys did it for him, took him out. Pretty cool.
“Buehrle’s the man. He’s has a lot to offer and he’s the most down to earth guy for all the success he’s had. It’s awesome being around him.”
Buehrle, now 10-7 on the year, wasn’t the man Friday night in what was his worst outing of the season.
Things looked bright for Toronto right off the bat with Bautista driving a three-run home run in the top of the first inning off Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda for a quick 3-0 Blue Jays lead.
But Buehrle was horribly off.
After getting through the first inning, he was touched for two runs off three hits in the second that cut the Toronto lead to 3-2.
Bautista clubbed his second homer, and 20th of the season, in the third to make the score 4-2.
But it all unraveled in a big way for Buehrle in the bottom of the frame, where the Yankees spanked him for four runs off five hits, including home runs by Carlos Beltran and Ichiro Suzuki.
Suzuki’s shot, his first home run of the year and first in 294 at-bats dating back to last year, was a three-run drive that pushed the Yankees in front 6-4.
The limp Toronto attack could manage just three more hits after Bautista’s second bomb in the third and would never really threaten the lead of the Yankees, who won their fourth straight.
Buehrle would not return to pitch in the fourth, the shortest outing of his season. In fact, it was Buehrle’s shortest start since June 6, 2010, when he lasted only three innings against the Cleveland Indians.
Buehrle’s final was ugly – six runs off nine hits over three innings before departing after 67 pitches.
After a marvelous start to the season in which he was 10-1 in his first 12 starts, the Blue Jays must be starting to wonder what has gone wrong with the veteran lefty.
Over his last nine outings, Buehrle is 0-6 with three no-decisions and is now 1-12 in 19 career games against the Yankees.
“Obviously it’s frustrating,” Buehrle said afterward. “Big game like this, we need to come out and try to make a point. Especially the way we started out with Bautista hitting that three-run homer to give us the lead, I went out there and just pretty much gave it right back.”