Blue Jays atop the AL East but hardly look the part at Yankee Stadium

At first glance when you look at the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have dropped the last 16 games at Yankee Stadium, it seems like a fluky thing that can’t be explained.

Then when you see a runner get picked off on a full count for the second out of the first inning you notice that it might not be a fluke. It has been said in many places that you make your own luck but in the same vein it seems that you create your own destiny and fortune by doing the wrong things at the inopportune time.

That’s exactly the scenario that unfolded early in what became a three hour, 47-minute, 6-4 loss and what often has happened during this dubious streak

Melky Cabrera was on second after Jose Bautista walked. David Phelps had a full count on Edwin Encarnacion. Then comes a signal from the Yankee dugout about throwing to second and Phelps who has a good pick-off move does so.

He gets Cabrera (upheld after a replay challenge) and one pitch later the inning is over and Phelps is done with the most intimidating part of Toronto’s lineup. He also never trails as the Yankees create two runs (weird thing there) and create another after Melky Cabrera hits a two-run home run.

You don’t necessarily think the Blue Jays are assured of losing again at that point but you most certainly think how differently it might have gone had Cabrera been better on the bases against someone with a good pick-off move.

Thought it might not have gotten mentioned high up stories like it did here, it was a significant play.

It’s not like this was a series where Toronto’s top four guys performed poorly. Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were a combined 12-for-46 (.260), though that’s mostly with Cabrera and Encarnacion since Reyes and Bautista were 4-for-24.

Still you can’t like the downward swing in Toronto’s offense. The same lineup that led the majors with 165 runs last month has 55 in 17 games this month. The same lineup that opened June with five straight wins has lost nine of 12 overall by a 50-28 margin.

The Blue Jays may spend a good part of the summer leading the division or in contention but for whatever reason things go wrong in the Bronx. Toronto has seven more times to stop lamenting mistakes in New York and four more losses they will surpass the Cleveland Indians 19-game run of futility in New York between 1960 and 1962 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

So far their totals in this skid are a .223 batting average (125-for-560) and a run differential of 84-45.

And it’s not just the last 16 games in New York.

Since the start of 2011, the Blue Jays have won twice in 27 games.Both of those were in the same series on Aug. 27 and 29, 2012. Toronto has not won a season series in New York since the 86-win team in 2003 won six of 10, including a four-game sweep on Memorial Day weekend aided by a 7-for-16 showing from Carlos Delgado.

Since then the Blue Jays are 29-66 (23-42 with me at the game)

Here is a sampling of what the Blue Jays, specifically John Gibbons had to say about the 16th straight empty trip to Yankee Stadium.

on if he’s glad the Jays are getting out of New York: “Yeah, I would say so.  But hey, if you’re gonna play in prime time you’ve gotta perform on the big stage and we didn’t do it.  We’re fully capable of doing it.  We just didn’t do it.  It’ll be definitely good to move on.”
on their quality of play this series: “We basically got shut down.  They stuck it to us pretty good all three games.  They played good and we’re just kind of treading water right now but we need to pick it up.”
on if it’s disheartening to come into New York and get swept after the big surge to first place:
 “Oh, yeah.  It really is because there comes a time.  Like I said, it’s a big stage here.  You’ve got to perform here.  Whether you like it or not or whether you’re struggling or not, you’ve got to be able to scratch out a win somehow.  Because that’s what the great teams, the teams that go on to win, do.  The next time we come to town we’ve got to change that around a little bit.”

Maybe next time Gibbons and the Blue Jays will be saying different things. At least they’re not as bad as last April’s four-game series.