One bad pitch, one big inning.
That has been the problem of late for Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey and it reared its ugly head again Saturday afternoon.
Casey McGehee belted a three-run homer off Laffey as the New York Yankees beat Toronto 5-2 and handed the Blue Jays a fifth straight loss.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (11-6) fanned 10 to earn New York (67-46) its fourth straight win before a Rogers Centre sellout of 45,582. The Yankees moved a whopping 14 games ahead of last-place Toronto (53-60) in the American League East standings.
Laffey (3-3) allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.
“It’s one of those games where you kind of beat your head against the wall,” Laffey said. “You pitched real well pretty much the entire game and have one inning wreck the whole outing.
“I kind of put the team out of the game a little bit.”
But he saw some positives.
“I went back and looked at some film and I’m confident and comfortable with where I’m at right now though after watching the progression I’ve made over the last couple of games,” Laffey said. “Just got to keep working.
“Can’t let it be one pitch every time out, You just can’t let that happen.”
Toronto manager John Farrell said consistency is Laffey’s biggest problem.
“He has been hurt with a couple of pitches that have found the middle of the plate,” Farrell said. “Whether it was the three-run homer over in Oakland or the three-run homer today.
“That has been the difference, the consistency on the edges where he’s got to pitch.”
After the game, New York played ace left-hander CC Sabathia on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow. He could return Aug. 24 against Cleveland.
“As far as the concern, it’s pretty low level because it’s not like it got any worse.” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He wants to pitch Monday, which I’m not surprised because he said he dealt with it before.
“We just decided, let’s try to get it cleaned up now.”
Nova came in looking for his first win since July 8. Since claiming a victory at Boston, he was 0-3 with an 8.36 earned-run average in five starts before Saturday’s game.
Girardi praised Nova’s effort against Toronto.
“He threw really well today,” Girardi said. “I thought his curveball was very good.
“For the most part he spotted his fastball pretty well. He threw some good sliders, it was more consistent than it has been.”
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 28th save.
McGehee’s first homer of the season keyed the fourth, following a run-scoring single by former Blue Jay Jayson Nix. Mark Teixeira led off the inning with a single and Andruw Jones walked with one out.
Nova retired the first nine Blue Jays he faced before Rajai Davis led off the fourth with a single, took second on a balk and scored on a single by Edwin Encarnacion.
Yunel Escobar was hit by a pitch but Nova finished the inning with a strikeout and groundout.
McGehee doubled with one out in the sixth before Derek Jeter doubled with two out to put the Yankees ahead 5-1. After Nick Swisher walked, left-hander Aaron Loup replaced Laffey and retired Teixeira on a grounder to third.
“He used four pitches today for strikes but as deep as that lineup is, regardless of what the batting averages say, they have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark one-through-nine,” Farrell said. “But when you look back at the last three or four starts with Laffey it has been the one pitch in a key spot where it has found the middle of the plate.”
Both teams received a warning from plate umpire Jim Joyce after Escobar was hit for the second plate appearance in a row in the bottom of the sixth. It came after Encarnacion walked but David Cooper’s grounder forced Escobar at second and second baseman Robinson Cano made a fine play to end the inning on a Moises Sierra grounder.
Davis led off the bottom of the eighth with a double and stole third with one out. He scored on an infield hit by Encarnacion and David Robertson replaced Nova. Robertson induced an inning-ending double play from Omar Vizquel, who hit for Escobar.
The Jays said Escobar left the game for precautionary reasons with a sore elbow the result of being hit by a pitch. He is listed as day to day.
Laffey had hit Curtis Granderson with a pitch in the second.
“Purely accidental obviously with me, “ Laffey said. “I was trying to go hard in there, I was trying to go hard in on the lefties, that’s part of the game.
“I couldn’t tell you whether or not he was trying to go after Eskie on purpose or not. It could have been the same thing, they could have been trying to pitch him in just like I was throwing in to those guys, I came up and in on Cano a couple of times as well. So you could probably say the same thing.”
Notes: Toronto centre-fielder Colby Rasmus is day-to-day after aggravating a groin injury in Friday night’s 10-4 loss to the Yankees. Anthony Gose started in centre Saturday . . . Utility player Mike McCoy was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas with right-hander David Carpenter being demoted . . . The sellout was the third of the season at Rogers Centre . . . Ichiro Suzuki’s five runs-batted in Friday matched his career high. It marked the third time he had accomplished the feat but first since 2004 . . . Left-hander J.A. Happ (0-1, 6.35 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday for Toronto, facing right-hander Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.10 ERA).