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Yankees shrug off a bad one Jeter reaches 2,718 hits in loss to Blue Jays

Even a team with the best record in baseball can have days like this.

No problem with the New York Yankees' bats Sunday in Rogers Centre. As for their arms and gloves? Don't ask.

Brutal pitching and uglier defense paved the way for the Yankees' most unsightly flameout of the second half, an interminable 14-8 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Rogers Centre.

The Yankees made four errors, Nick Swisher lost a ball in the right-field sun that went for a double and Vernon Wells' seventh-inning fly ball was caught even though Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera collided in left-center field (neither was hurt). And don't forget Sergio Mitre's third-strike wild pitch that led to a run.

"It's not Yankee baseball," said manager Joe Girardi, whose team is 36-13 since the All-Star break and 87-50 overall. "It's not what we've done all year. You're going to have some ugly games over the course of the season. You know that. They're hard to predict when they're going to come."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went 3 for 3 with a walk before being lifted in the sixth inning. Jeter has 2,718 career hits, three shy of tying Lou Gehrig for the Yankees' franchise record, and will get the chance to break the mark with a day-night double-header against Tampa Bay today in the Bronx (1 and 7 p.m., YES, Radio 1230 AM).

"I'm sure there will be a lot of anticipation," Girardi said. "People are really excited for him and all he's meant to this franchise. Our guys are excited for him."

". . . Look at guys like Yogi [Berra] and Reggie [Jackson] who have gone through the clubhouse and all the players who have played before us. They've got to think it's pretty unbelieveable. Think about all the names who have been in the Yankee uniform."

Because of the twinbill, the Yankees were hoping Mitre could get them through six innings. He couldn't come close, getting drilled for 11 runs in 4 1/3 innings. That included seven of the eight the Blue Jays scored in the decisive fifth when they wiped out a 5-4 deficit to earn a split of the four-game series.

It was a classic sacrificial lamb outing. Aside from the errors, several other plays conspired against Mitre (3-2). Two came in the fifth as Edwin Encarnacion reached on a strikeout/wild pitch and Joe Inglett was credited with an infield single after third baseman Jerry Hairston held his grounder too long pondering a throw home.

Girardi said it seemed Mitre "got about 21 outs" and wasn't going to indict his starter.

"I felt good and the only way I looked at it was to try to get outs and pick up my teammates a couple times," Mitre said, when told of his skipper's comments. "That last inning, we pretty much fell apart."

Mitre's final line represented the most runs against a Yankees starter since David Wells gave up 11 in 1997 at Anaheim, and was pretty close to an historic line as the club record is 13, last set in 1923 by Carl Mays.

In his final two starts last month for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Mitre allowed just one run in 14 2/3 innings against the Buffalo Bisons. But pitching against major-league hitters is a whole lot different than blanking the punchless '09 Herd.

"One of those days," said Mitre (7.02 ERA). "I felt good but you just have to forget about it. This game was pretty much all over the place."

The Yankees had 13 hits but were no match for a 15-hit Toronto offense. Aaron Hill (two doubles) drove in three runs while Wells and Inglett were both 3 for 5.

Cabrera belted a three-run homer for the Yankees in the eighth, a big relief for the Yankees after he took the worst of the collision with Damon.

"That scared me," Girardi said.

"I think I knocked some power into him. He came up the next time and hit a home run," joked Damon. "That was just some bad communication."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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