Blue Jays Stymie Yankees
Toronto 4, N.Y. Yankees 1
Monday, September 24, 2007; 10:10 PM
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees took a day off Monday. At least, that's how it looked. The Yankees' drive for a playoff spot paused, with Andy Pettitte falling behind early and a smallish crowd watching Toronto rookie Jesse Litsch pitch the Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory.
New York could've clinched a postseason berth with a win, coupled with Detroit's 2-0 loss later against Minnesota. Instead, the Yankees never quite woke up in their final home game of the regular season and fell two games behind idle Boston in the AL East.
Alex Rodriguez drove in the Yankees' lone run for his 147th RBI, albeit on a dribbler that barely rolled halfway down the first-base line. The loss was just their fourth in the last 18 games.
This was a makeup from an April 25 rainout and there were only about 12,000 people in the seats when the game started. Officially, there were 23,567 fans at the park by the end.
Because all 53,281 tickets were sold, this counted as the Yankees' 50th sellout of the year. That brought their season attendance to a record 4,271,356, breaking last year's mark of 4,243,780.
Still, it was a sleepy afternoon for most everyone on the New York side. Derek Jeter misplayed an easy grounder for an error, Rodriguez let a bouncer roll underneath his glove and Pettitte (14-9) struggled.
Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy had a tough start, too, and he didn't even pitch. The 22-year-old rookie was briefly stopped at the players' entrance by a guard who didn't recognize him.
Litsch (7-9) also looked a little different, at least to the Yankees. They'd tagged him twice this season, but this time he pitched five-hit ball for 7 2-3 innings without a walk.
Casey Janssen finished for his sixth save.
Litsch started in place of A.J. Burnett, who left the Blue Jays for a day on what they described as "personal business."
Burnett's absence appeared to be a break for the Yankees. He was 1-0 with an 0.60 ERA in two starts against them this season.
The Blue Jays weren't so alert, either. With two outs and runners at the corners in the eighth, left fielder Reed Johnson caught a fly ball and fired home, forgetting the inning was over.
Pitching for the first time since posting his 200th career victory, Pettitte fell behind 3-0 in the second inning.
After Aaron Hill singled and Gregg Zaun walked, Curtis Thigpen hit a grounder down the third-base line. Rodriguez took a couple of quick steps, tapped his glove and then saw the ball scoot past him for an RBI double.
Hector Luna drove in another run with a groundout and John McDonald followed with an RBI double for a 3-0 lead.
Alex Rios doubled in the third, giving him a hit in all 18 games against the Yankees this season. He moved up on a fly ball and scored an unearned run when Jeter bobbled Hill's routine grounder to shortstop with two outs.
Jeter doubled in the sixth and later scored on the tapper by Rodriguez.
In the eighth, Rodriguez reached on an infield hit to the left side, with McDonald and Luna appearing confused over who would field the ball. Remember on May 30, A-Rod caused all sorts of commotion by shouting at Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark on a popup.
Notes:@ Yankees 2B Robinson Cano ran a long way to snag Thigpen's foul pop in the fourth. Cano ran into the tarp and appeared to twist his ankle. He was checked by a trainer and stayed in. ... Toronto DH Frank Thomas returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game with a sore right knee. He went 0-for-4. ... Rios' streak is the longest in one season against the Yankees since Cleveland's Dale Mitchell hit in 19 straight in 1952. The Yankees got even with Mitchell a few years later _ he struck out to end Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956.