Alex Rodriguez plays and the Yankees lose — that’s the way it is. A-Rod was back off the disabled list this afternoon, just in time to help New York lose 7-3 to the Jays, snapping an eight-game Yankees win streak. Of course, it helped that Phil Hughes had the ball and having forgotten how to pitch sometime back in mid-May.
Alright, so Rodriguez isn’t necessarily the kiss of death — the Yankees did manage to win a World Series with him last year after five years and a wasted $120 million, after all. This year, however, they’re 21-3 with him out of the lineup. He managed a pair of hits in five at-bats in his return this afternoon, including an RBI single with the game already out of reach in the seventh.
Brett Cecil was good enough for the Jays, lasting six-and-a-third and leaving with a 7-2 lead before A-Rod’s single off Casey Janssen closed his book with three runs on seven hits and four walks. More importantly, he grabbed the win, bumping his record to 3-0 in four starts against the Yankees and a combined 6-1 against New York and Tampa Bay for the year, the latter of which beat him for the only time five days ago. Throw in three strong starts against Boston and Baltimore, and Cecil is 8-2 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 outings against the AL East. As a rookie in 2009, he was 1-3 with a 7.90 ERA in six starts (two apiece against Baltimore, Boston and New York and none against the Rays) against the division.
Cecil’s counterpart, Hughes, was roughed up by Toronto for the second time in less than two weeks, coughing up six runs over six innings, including two in the first on a Vernon Wells homer and another pair on an Aaron Hill shot in the third. John Buck added a solo homer in the sixth off Hughes, who dropped to 16-7 with the loss. Since starting the year 10-1, he’s loafed to a Joba-esque 7-6 mark with a 5.55 ERA in his last 13 starts.
The win means the Jays escape Yankee Stadium without being swept and wraps up a road swing through Tampa Bay and New York at 2-4. The AL West-leading Rangers, with Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee apparently on the shelf for the near future, come to Toronto next to start a four-gamer tomorrow afternoon, with the Rays following for three on the weekend. Ricky Romero (11-8, 3.60) goes in the opener against Tommy Hunter (12-2, 3.64).