NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays entered Yankee Stadium this week looking like a new team, but two games into a three-game series, they're quickly finding out that some old habits die hard.
Toronto still finds itself on top of the American League East, but its lead has almost been cut in half as the club continues to search for ways to win in the Big Apple. That problem isn't new, in fact it's something the organization has been dealing with for the past three years.
The Blue Jays' offense saw its recent struggles continue, and even more glaring, Toronto dropped its 15th consecutive game at Yankee Stadium with a 7-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night.
"Maybe we don't like the bright lights of Broadway, that's all I can figure," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Last year, we didn't win a game here. We lost the first couple here [this season], and then it goes even further back. It's a mystery, who knows why? They definitely have our number, but there's a lot of games left here, and we need to bounce back."
Toronto's losing streak is the longest road skid by any club since the Orioles dropped 16 consecutive games to the Blue Jays from Aug. 8, 2009 to June 15, 2011. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the longest winning streak by the Yankees at home vs. a single opponent since a 19-game mark from June 10, 1960 to April 21, 1962, vs. Cleveland.
There's a wide range of factors behind the losing ways, but the immediate focus for the Blue Jays is on the offense. Toronto easily had the best lineup in baseball during May, scoring 165 runs. Since then, the Blue Jays have scored 51 runs in 16 games, the second-fewest in the Major Leagues over that span.
One of the main reasons behind the Blue Jays' recent struggles has been the lack of home runs. Toronto's lineup is built around power, and when the ball isn't carrying out of the park, the offense often has difficulty finding other ways to score. The power outage has been noticeable of late, with two homers in the past eight games and four over the last 11.
Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley took advantage of the situation Wednesday night, allowing two runs over five innings. The only trouble he faced came in the fourth, when the Blue Jays put two runners on and Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus came through with a pair of back-to-back RBI singles. Rasmus' RBI came in his second at-bat after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.
"We were hot there for so long, but we've cooled off just about everybody," Gibbons said. "You just keep working, keep battling, and eventually we're going to come out in a big way, I think. Hopefully sooner rather than later."
Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle was saddled with the tough loss because of the lack of run support. He has been stuck on 10 wins since June 1, but he pitched well enough against the Yankees to see that total increased. Buehrle allowed an unearned run in the first and then a two-run homer to Brian McCann in the fourth. McCann's home run barely got over the wall in right field, and was the byproduct of a short porch at Yankee Stadium.
Buehrle is currently on a three-game losing streak, but he has recorded a quality start in all but three of his 15 outings this season. Even during the recent skid, he's allowed seven earned runs over 19 1/3 innings, which equates to a 3.26 ERA.
"I feel like, overall, I pitched pretty good," Buehrle said. "I gave up a fly ball to right field, two-run homer, and we end up losing the game. Same thing yesterday, we lost the game on a little 318-foot fly ball that ends up going out. Obviously these are the dimensions of the stadium, you have to play with it, but it's frustrating when you come out and battle last night and tonight, and pretty much two losses on the short little porch to right field."
New York put the game out of reach with a four-run seventh inning off relievers Chad Jenkins and Brett Cecil. Jenkins loaded the bases with one out before Cecil came in and walked a batter and then allowed a bases-clearing triple to McCann, who tied a career high with five RBIs. Jenkins was charged with three of the runs on three hits and no walks.
The Blue Jays have now lost a series on the road for the first time since May 2-4 at Pittsburgh, and their recent slide continues. Since sweeping the Tigers from June 3-5, the Toronto is 4-8.