Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Inventive Jays find new way to lose

Toronto drops game in 11th on relief pitcher's throwing error

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TORONTO -- Toronto reliever Aaron Loup was left shaking his head after his two-run throwing error in the 11th inning helped the New York Yankees stave off a Blue Jays' comeback in a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon.

A Rogers Centre sellout of 46,095 was equally dazed. As, no doubt, was the legion of Toronto fans watching on TV.

The 7-11 Jays, hyped to go deep into the post-season, are finding new, painful ways to lose in 2013.

"At this level you've got to play good, solid defence," said Toronto manager John Gibbons, whose happy-go-lucky demeanour is diminishing after every defeat. "That bit us today.

"There's no doubt (when) you screw up the fundamentals, you're not supposed to win."

Toronto has now lost five of its last seven, while New York (10-6) has won nine of its last 11.

Gibbons' team has been outscored 96-64 this season with Saturday marking the 11th time in 18 games that it has failed to score more than three runs. The Jays have scored 22 runs and gone 3-5 since all-star shortstop Jose Reyes -- seen in the clubhouse Saturday on crutches -- went down with an ankle injury in Kansas City.

The warts on the face of this team make for ugly viewing.

Toronto's starting lineup featured seven players hitting below 250.

Former Blue Jays centre-fielder Vernon Wells' solo homer to left in the second inning marked the 13th time in 18 games that the opposition has scored first. Toronto's record in those games is 3-10.

The Jays have been outscored 16-9 in the first inning and 15-7 in the second.

"Let's face it we haven't played good enough baseball to win," Gibbons said bluntly. "We're where we should be."

That's four games under .500, good for fourth in the American League East.

The key miscommunication between Loup and third baseman Brett Lawrie wasted a solid pitching performance by left-hander Mark Buehrle, as well as an eight-inning comeback capped by Melky Cabrera's two-run single to tie it at 3-3.

Wells and Francisco Cervelli opened the Yankees' 11th with singles off left-hander Loup (1-1). Both scored after Loup fielded Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice bunt and went for the forceout at third but couldn't immediately find Lawrie, who had charged the ball only to see the pitcher was there.

The third baseman back-pedalled like an NHL defenceman but couldn't get to Loup's toss, which was hard and a little wide of the bag.

"I thought we had an easy play at third base," said Loup. "I didn't have enough awareness to realize Lawrie was crashing in on the play. By the time I realized he was back-pedalling back to the bag and he wasn't there, it was too late and I had already let go of the ball."

Said Lawrie: "I was trying to fight to get back as best I could."

"He just got caught in no-man's land," Gibbons said.

Lawrie was also front and centre in the fifth when, with the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis' hard liner bounced off his glove at third, driving in Jayson Nix and Brett Gardner for a 3-0 lead. It was scored a single.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2013 B13

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