Let's be honest; the Yankees missed a lot of opportunities today. From going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position to not being able to put hitters away on 0-2 counts, today was a very bad loss for the Yankees. They badly needed a win today to build on the momentum from yesterday's extra-inning triumph over the Rays, but they could not get it done against the AL East's cellar dwellers.
Phil "I Suck At Baseball" Hughes turned in a typical Hughes performance, lasting only 4 2/3 innings while giving up five runs (four earned) and again not being able to strike out hitters (or even get them out) after working the count to 0-2. Hughes was pitching relatively well up until the bottom of the fifth inning. That inning, the Blue Jays hammered him, as every Jay that came up in the inning hit the ball into the outfield, with the exception of Brett Lawrie, who received an intentional walk.
The game was tied at 2 when the inning started. Anthony Gose led off with a bullet line drive to Alfonso Soriano in left. This was just a sign of things to come, however, as Jose Reyes ripped a double into right field that made it all the way to the corner. Ryan Goins followed with a single hit so hard to right field that Reyes could not score. He scored anyway when a deep fly ball to the warning track hit by Edwin Encarnacion glanced off Ichiro's glove in a supremely rare error for him. It was now 3-2 Jays, and Hughes was not done cooking. He proceeded to hang a breaking ball and watch it get slammed for a double to right field. 4-2. All this time, Joe Girardi had not the slightest presence of mind to yank Hughes, even though he looked terrible.
After Lawrie was intentionally walked, Moises Sierra drilled a deep fly ball to Ichiro (who was very busy this inning) to score Encarnacion from third and give the Jays a three-run lead. Only now did Girardi pull Hughes from the game, and he replaced him with David Huff, they guy who (in my mind) should have started this game.
Huff proceeded to show Girardi why I was right, tossing 3 1/3 no-hit innings while allowing only one baserunner (via a walk) and striking out five, more than the three Hughes struck out. Huff has now thrown 8 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, a streak that I bet beats Hughes' longest all season. He lowered his ERA to 4.21 while Hughes' shot up to 4.91.
The horrendous performance by Hughes was only the beginning of the Yankees' struggles tonight. Robinson Cano went 0-for-4, including popping out to center field in a crucial bases-loaded situation in the top of the fifth. Derek Jeter went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and also grounded into a double play. Lyle Overbay went 0-for-3, but he hit a hard line drive so I'll excuse him for the night.
One last thing: Girardi made the worst pinch-hitting decision I have seen in a very long time in the top of the seventh. With Austin Romine (who had a solid single and a hard line drive today) on first base and one out, Girardi amazingly sent Vernon Wells up to bat in place of Gardner strictly because Aaron Loup, a lefty, was on the mound. I don't think it takes much to realize that this was an extremely dumb move, and Wells proved Birardi wrong by taking a strike and then aimlessly flailing at two pitches feet away from the strike zone.