Yankees left in dust by Blue Jays' charge Toronto wins, 3-1

magic number 2

September 26, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- When the New York Yankees began plotting their strategy for this weekend's series against the Toronto Blue Jays, it was based on two elements.

wanted to, but then I settled down."

Until beating Seattle, 1-0, on April 6, Leiter had not won a game in the big leagues since 1989. He spent most of the intervening years rehabilitating from two shoulder operations.

"To be able to win a game at this time of year, in an important series makes it very special," said Leiter. "But as far as my biggest win, I'd have to say it was that game in Seattle. After what I've been through, it feels good just to be able to contribute, to help the team in some way."

Leiter threw a lot of pitches in the early innings, but was in trouble only in the third, when Don Mattingly hit into a double play with the bases loaded.

"I was very fortunate to get out of that," said the left-hander. "I threw him two sliders -- but the second one was tighter [sharper, with less break], a better pitch."

In the bottom half of the third inning, the Blue Jays scored their only run while Tanana was doing the pitching. It came as a result of an error on what should have been a routine play by shortstop Mike Gallego.

Tanana had retired the first two hitters, when Rickey Henderson hit a looping double down the left-field line for the Blue Jays' first hit. Devon White walked before Paul Molitor hit a three-hopper slightly to Gallego's right.

Anticipating a force at second, Gallego appeared to rush the play, bobbled the ball and then threw late to first base. The error loaded the bases and Tanana walked Joe Carter to force in the game's first run.

Tanana departed with one out in the seventh and a runner on first base, still trailing 1-0. But manager Buck Showalter's call to the bullpen was no more productive than the Yankees' strategy going into this series.

Steve Farr gave up back-to-back singles to Henderson, who proceeded to steal second, and White, who drove in the two runs that ultimately decided the game. The Yankees managed a run off Danny Cox in the eighth, when Wade Boggs doubled and scored on a one-out single by Mattingly.

Danny Tartabull kept the Yankees' hopes alive by drawing a walk, but Mike Stanley hit into a double play to end the inning. Duane Ward then pitched a perfect ninth to record his 42nd save of the season.

The game had an interesting angle for Tanana. His last victory over the Blue Jays came in the final game of the 1987 season, when he was pitching for Detroit. The Tigers completed a sweep of Toronto that gave them the AL East title that day, and since then he has gone 0-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 starts against Toronto.

Yesterday's game marked Tanana's second start since being obtained from the Mets 10 days ago, and it was the second time he was betrayed by the Yankees' defense. However, he refused to absolve himself from any blame.

"I love these kind of [late season] games," he said. "It's what you play for -- when your concentration is its sharpest.

"But we just didn't win the game, and that's my job," Tanana added. "In order to succeed at this time of year, you have to be hitting on all cylinders -- they [the Blue Jays] seem to be doing it, and we're not."

Which was the kindest way Tanana could understate the situation. The Yankees have lost their past five and 12 of their past 17. The Blue Jays have won 12 of their past 13, including a nine-game streak (Sept. 10-21) that rendered any counter-strategy meaningless.

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