Toronto Blue Jays fans better stock up on Dramamine.
The rough waters their baseball team has unsuccessfully tried to navigate the last couple months will probably be around for several more weeks, according to Cito Gaston, skipper of this sinking ship.
"Right now, it's kind of tough to see how we're going to get better before the end of the season," the Blue Jays manager candidly admitted yesterday, before the start of a four-game series against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre.
And if the first inning last night is any indication of what's to come between now and Oct. 4, the final day of the regular season for the Blue Jays, the journey won't be pretty.
After rookie starter Ricky Romero (11-7) loaded the bases in New York's first at-bats on a single and two walks, Hideki Matsui stepped into the batter's box and drove a hit into right field toward Travis Snider.
Snider broke in for the ball, as he should.
As he shouldn't, Snider did not stoop low enough and the ball scooted under his glove and rolled to the wall for an embarrassing error.
By the time it was over, the gimpy-kneed Matsui had pulled into third base, clearing the bases to provide New York with a gift-wrapped 3-0 lead. And when Jorge Posada stroked a single to left field to score Matsui, the Yankees' lead was 4-0.
At least the Blue Jays displayed a bit of gumption, fighting back from a 5-0 to trail 7-5, before ultimately falling 10-5 as baseball's highest-paid outfit continues to prove money talks.
The Yankees (86-48) were up 7-5 heading into the ninth inning, where they broke it wide open with a solo home run by Alex Rodriguez, followed by a two-run shot by Posada.
Posada had a big night, going 4-for-5 and driving in four runs.
The victory was the seventh in a row for New York, but only 22,773 showed up at Rogers Centre to see the team with the best record in the majors.
It was Toronto's fourth loss in a row and ninth in its last 11 contests. The Blue Jays' record is now 59-74.
Gaston was insistent before the game that, appearances to the contrary, his players are continuing to show up for each and every game ready to play.
"I don't think they're letting down," he said. "When you don't hit, it looks that way.
"You look at that first game in Texas [an 18-10 win against the Rangers last Monday] you think they were letting down? It just appears that way when you don't drive in runs."
Toronto entered last night hitting .256 with runners in scoring position - ninth in the American League.
Just off a crummy 1-6 road trip that took them first through Boston before heading to Texas, the Blue Jays forgot to take their once-feared bats, hitting a measly .220, while averaging almost nine strikeouts per game.
Gaston said he has also not lost any confidence in Snider, a promising 21-year-old rookie who has lapsed back into some old bad habits at the plate since his recall from Triple-A on Aug. 16. The manager said he has seen some recent improvement with Snider's stroke - he went 2-for-3 with a double last night - but the youngster is still having trouble with major-league heat.
"You do have to hit a fastball on this level," Gaston said.
Romero's hopes of winning AL rookie of the year honours took another hit. He lasted just 41/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits and six walks, while striking out seven.
As for the Yankees, compared to last season, when they made their final appearance in Toronto in September, things couldn't be more different. Back then, they were in third place in the AL East, eight games back of the Tampa Bay Rays and on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
"We're obviously in a better position than we were last year, … and that's a good thing," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "And our club has been on a roll. The games up here tend to be really close, it comes down to the end a lot of times."
Not if the Blue Jays have anything to do with it.