TORONTO (AP) — The New York Yankees worked so hard at keeping their signs safe, they ended up disrupting their own starting pitcher.
Brandon Morrow won his fourth straight decision, Yunel Escobar had three hits and the Toronto Blue Jays again roughed up the Yankees for their fifth straight win, 7-1 on Friday night.
Yankees catcher Russell Martin, who complained about the Blue Jays stealing signs in Thursday’s 16-7 win, said he and starter Freddy Garcia used multiple signs throughout Friday’s game, even with no one on base.
That slowed the pace and kept Garcia, already pitching on extra rest after his final start before the All-Star break was rained out, struggling with his command.
“We changed the signs all the time so it’s hard sometimes to get into a rhythm,” Garcia said. “When you can’t find the rhythm, they know. They know you’re kind of struggling on the mound.”
Martin agreed that the extra care and caution meant things moved at a crawl.
“It did seem like the game was a little slower out there,” Martin said. “We were going with multiple signs, even with nobody on. When you do that it slows down the game a little bit.”
The Yankees have lost their first two games following the break, and four of six overall.
“It’s not the way you want to start out but let’s not make too much of it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s two games. We’ll get back on track and we’ll start playing well again.”
New York made two errors Friday and has committed five in the past two games. It’s the first time since June 2010 that the Yankees have made multiple errors in consecutive games.
“It’s frustrating when we’re not playing fundamental baseball,” said Martin, whose throwing error in the fifth led to a run. “If you’re playing fundamental baseball and you’re getting beat, that’s another thing but when you’re kind of giving runs away and stuff like that, it’s a little frustrating. It’s nothing that we can’t turn around.”
Morrow (6-4) has not lost since June 11 against Boston, and is 4-0 with a 2.68 ERA in his past six starts. He allowed one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, walked two and struck out six.
New York had at least two runners on in both the first and second but Morrow gave up just one run, then set down 13 in a row.
“The first inning and a half I was getting behind, walked a couple of guys,” Morrow said. “Then I started commanding the fastball a lot better and commanding the inside of the plate very well. That helped out and my defense made some unbelievable plays.”
Octavio Dotel got one out in the seventh, Marc Rzepczynski worked the eighth and Jason Frasor pitched around three singles in the ninth as the Blue Jays evened their record at 47-47.
Frasor made his 452nd appearance for Toronto, tying Duane Ward for first on the franchise’s career games list.
Escobar had three hits, a walk and two RBIs. He singled home a run in the first, doubled in the third, walked and scored in the fifth and hit an RBI single in the eighth.
Toronto opened the scoring in the bottom of the first against Garcia (7-7) when Eric Thames doubled and scored on Escobar’s single to left.
New York tied it with a run in the second when Jorge Posada scored on a base hit by Eduardo Nunez.
The Blue Jays broke the deadlock by scoring twice in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Travis Snider and Edwin Encarnacion brought home the first run and Encarnacion later scored on Jose Molina’s two-out single to center.
Toronto chased Garcia and tacked on three more in the fifth. Thames doubled before walks to Escobar and Adam Lind loaded the bases for Aaron Hill, who drove in a run by beating out a potential double-play grounder to short, with Lind forced at second on the play.
After Hill stole second, Escobar scored on Snider’s sacrifice fly to left. Encarnacion was walked intentionally to bring up Patterson, putting runners at first and second. When Hill and Encarnacion tried a double steal, Martin’s errant throw to third base sailed into left field, allowing Hill to score.
“If I make a good throw, he’s out,” Martin said. “That’s it, just a bad throw. Nothing else to say. I guess I did rush myself. I had more time than I thought I did.”
Garcia lost his second straight start, allowing six runs — five earned — in five innings. He walked four, one intentional, and struck out one.
Thames left after five innings with cramping in his left leg and was replaced by Mike McCoy.
The Blue Jays made it 7-1 against Sergio Mitre in the eighth. Rajai Davis singled, McCoy was hit by a pitch and Escobar lined an RBI single to right.
Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 31 home runs, did not play Friday and is expected to sit until at least Sunday. He might also skip the rest of this series and return against Seattle Tuesday, taking advantage of Monday’s off day.
Bautista left after four innings Thursday when he twisted his right ankle sliding into third base. The All-Star slugger was wearing a walking boot Friday but said on Twitter that his ankle felt better.
NOTES: Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano (right elbow) will throw Saturday at New York’s spring training complex in Tampa, Fla. If all goes well, Soriano could pitch in a minor league game Tuesday, manager Joe Girardi said. … RHP Mark Prior (groin) will make his second appearance with the Gulf Coast Yankees Saturday. After sitting out since April 18, Prior pitched two innings Wednesday, allowing one unearned run. … Blue Jays RHP Kyle Drabek was lifted from his start at Triple-A Las Vegas Thursday after three innings Thursday with a sore left shoulder and upper back. The injury is not considered serious.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)