This is what it sounds like when bats die.
One night after wasting a rare river of runs, the Yankees morphed into hitters who used soaked editions of the N.Y. Post for bats against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
J.A. Happ provided a cure for the ills that have infected the Yankees across the past two-plus weeks, but one mistake in the second inning to Jonathan Davis was enough for the left-hander to absorb a 2-1 loss at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
It was the third time in four games the Yankees were held to one run.
The 21-21 Yankees suffered a fifth straight loss and the 15th in 20 games. It also dropped them three games back of the Blue Jays in the race for second place in the AL East.
The loss came after Brian Cashman told his free-falling club that he still believed in it during full-squad meeting the GM called.
Happ’s lone mistake, a pitch he wanted in a little more than it was to Davis that was hit for a two-run homer, was enough to get him beat.
“Just remind them, first and foremost, that I believe in them. I put the club together with my staff and everyone is here for a reason,’’ Cashman said. “Making sure they know where they have to get back to. I have taken the opportunity to do that from time to time and see if it helps. The bottom line is we are on our own, there is no help coming, and the challenge is to find a way to get through this storm.’’
The Yankees had at least one base runner in each of the first six innings but only scored in the fifth, when they cut the Blue Jays’ lead in half. In those six frames, the Yankees went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base.
Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a big problem for the Yankees — who entered the game with 23 hits in 124 at-bats (.185) in the clutch in the previous 19 games.
Blue Jays starter Taijuan Walker gave up two hits, five walks and hit a batter but didn’t allow a run in four innings in which he threw 88 pitches, 43 for strikes.
For the fifth straight inning the Yankees had runners in scoring position when Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks singled and Clint Frazier walked to load the bases with no one out against right-handed reliever Shun Yamaguchi.
Gleyber Torres’ fly to right wasn’t deep enough to score Voit. Mike Tauchman, who flied out to end the first inning with the bases loaded, plated Voit with a fly to deep left. Gary Sanchez left two runners on base by striking out on a 1-2 breaking ball.
The Yankees were robbed of a run-scoring single off the bat of DJ LeMahieu in the fourth when shortstop Santiago Espinal made a diving stop on a grounder up the middle for the final out with Miguel Andujar on second and Tyler Wade on first.
Hicks opened the third by getting hit in the right arm and stealing second base with Frazier at the plate. After Frazier struck out, Hicks attempted to swipe third with Torres at the plate and was caught.
After the Yankees wasted scoring chances in the opening two innings, Happ retired the first two Blue Jays in the second before Joe Panik dumped a bloop single into center field and Davis launched that two-run homer to left for a 2-0 lead.
Happ did well to keep that deficit where it was in the third when Espinal doubled to left leading off the inning. Cavan Biggio’s fly to right moved Espinal to third but Happ retired Randal Grichuk on a fly to right and stranded the runner by getting Rowdy Tellez on a grounder to the right side.
Walker did everything but escort a Yankees base runner across home plate in the first inning, when the right-hander issued three straight walks after retiring LeMahieu and Voit to open the game.
With Hicks, Frazier and Torres on base, Walker fell behind Tauchman 3-1. He then hit a pitch that may have been out of the strike zone to left field for the final out.
Walker provided the Yankees with another scoring chance in the second when Andujar double to left with one out and Wade, the No. 9 hitter, walked. But LeMahieu flied to center and Voit, who was ahead in the count, 3-0, looked at a full-count pitch that cut the plate in half.
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