NEW YORK (AP) — Blue Jays manager John Farrell is constantly searching for nontraditional ways to make teams pay for pitching around Jose Bautista.
Having his cleanup hitter lay down a sacrifice Monday night was about as unconventional as Farrell could get.
Batting fourth for the first time this year, Yunel Escobar bunted after Corey Patterson doubled and Bautista was intentionally walked in the sixth. Bartolo Colon then intentionally walked Juan Rivera to load the bases and Toronto responded with a five-run inning capped by J.P Arencibia’s three-run double that helped the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
“The sac bunt with your four-hole hitter is not your typical move but it’s something we feel like we’ve got to go with at this point and time,” said Farrell, who has been creative with his lineups since Adam Lind went out with a back injury May 8.
Escobar became the first Blue Jays cleanup hitter to sacrifice since Dave Winfield on Aug. 30, 1992.
Starting in place of injured Jesse Litsch, Carlos Villanueva (2-0) limited the Yankees to two hits and a run in five innings. With a looping curveball, he struck out the side to open his first start since Oct. 3, 2009, for Milwaukee.
“He was very poised,” Farrell said. “Even in a starting role it didn’t change his demeanor.”
Arencibia added an RBI single in the eighth, and Bautista didn’t disappoint in his matchup with Curtis Granderson as the top two home run hitters in baseball. Bautista crushed a pitch from Bartolo Colon (2-3) in his first at-bat, sending a line drive over the 399-foot marker in left-center for his 19th homer of the season.
Bautista was intentionally walked and scored in the sixth and reached base three times in five plate appearances.
Granderson went 0 for 2 with three walks and two runs scored. New York failed to homer at Yankee Stadium for the sixth time in 28 games this season. Robinson Cano drove in three runs for the Yankees.
Colon gave up three hits in the first, matching his total from his start Wednesday, an eight-inning appearance against Baltimore. On the eve of his 38th birthday, Colon then allowed just an infield single until Corey Patterson led off the sixth with a double. The burly right-hander struck out six of his eight batters in that stretch.
Intentional walks to Bautista and Juan Rivera around a sacrifice in the sixth appeared to take Colon out of his rhythm.
“I went out there and told him what I wanted to do, and he said whatever you want to do is all right with me,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve got a groundball pitcher on the mound. The next three guys are 0 for 6 with four strikeouts. We took a shot and it didn’t work.”
Not even close.
Colon gave up an RBI single to Aaron Hill and walked Eric Thames on four pitches for another run before Arencibia, the Pacific Coast League MVP last year, cleared the bases with a double to right-center to make it 6-1.
“We need to show teams that every person in this lineup is capable of doing damage,” Bautista said, “and we did that tonight.”
Villanueva, who had a 1.48 ERA in 13 relief appearances coming in, breezed through the New York lineup the first time through, retiring eight of nine.
He walked Granderson leading off the fourth and paid for it. Mark Teixeira singled to right-center, advancing the runner to third base. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Cano hit a sacrifice fly to tie it at 1.
Villanueva struck out five and walked one. He threw a season-high 75 pitches, six more than his next best effort.
Farrell wouldn’t commit to giving Villanueva another start, but said he hasn’t hurt his chances.
“Whatever they need me to do,” Villanueva said. “I just work here.”
Jason Frasor walked Granderson leading off the sixth and he scored from third on Cano’s grounder to shortstop Escobar, who flubbed the toss to second trying for a force.
Arencibia had an RBI single in the eighth off Hector Noesi. Cano had a run-scoring hit in the bottom half to close to 7-3.
NOTES: Lind is expected to be the designated hitter in an extended spring game Wednesday. Farrell said Lind’s back has become “much more tolerable,” but he will not be activated until he can play the field. … Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano (elbow) might throw Wednesday, Girardi said. … Villanueva improved to 7-12 as a starter. He’s made 28 starts in his career.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)