Yanks hope to leave inconsistent bats on road

New York returns home for key stretch after seven-game trip

Yanks hope to leave inconsistent bats on road

TORONTO -- The Yankees could not wait to play with Sonny Gray following his blockbuster addition prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but their offense has thus far been unable to muster a single run of support behind the right-hander's 12 innings with the club.

As he did in his debut against the Indians last week, Gray provided a respectable performance but was overshadowed by his new teammates' silent bats, which were shut down by Marco Estrada and two relievers as the Blue Jays dispatched the Yankees with a 4-0 victory on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.

"Sonny pitched well enough to keep us in the ballgame, but it's up to us to get runs, and we didn't do that tonight," Brett Gardner said. "I think it's a lack of consistency on our part as an offense, and sometimes you've got to give credit to the pitching."

Perhaps, as Gardner suggested, Estrada did a nice job of staying out of the middle of the plate as he picked up his first victory since May 27. Or maybe Todd Frazier was more on the mark when he verbally tipped his cap, then lamented that they had let Estrada off the hook.

"It's just a tough one to swallow today, because the guy was very effective, but he's a guy that is very hittable, too, as well," Frazier said.

New York went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's loss, leaving 11 men on. The Yankees have taken on a feast-or-famine quality -- twice on this seven-game trip they produced outbursts of eight runs or more, while being limited to two runs or fewer in the other contests.

"We haven't been as consistent in the second half," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The guys are working at it, there's early BP, they're doing their cage work. They're doing everything. It's just been a little bit of a struggle."

Girardi on loss to Blue Jays

One of their most promising opportunities came in the fifth inning, as Garrett Cooper and Ronald Torreyes reached base to open the frame against Estrada.

Gardner flew out to left, Aaron Hicks popped out and then Aaron Judge struck out looking, extending Judge's franchise-record streak of 27 games with a strikeout. It is the longest such streak in the Majors this year.

"An out is an out," Judge said. "I'm still working on making adjustments. I'm feeling good at the plate. I've been missing my pitch, and that's the big key from the first half to the second half. I'm just going to keep grinding and make sure I don't miss my pitch."

The Yankees held a rare mid-series meeting in Cleveland to discuss pressure situations, and Frazier said that players still encourage each other to relax when those spots pop up.

"Maybe we put a little too much pressure on ourselves, to be honest," Frazier said. "I mean, I do. I'm a pure example. I'm looking for a pitch, but at the same time, sometimes I swing out of my shoes instead of just putting the ball in play, grounding out and getting the RBI in. That's the manufacturing part that we've got to do."

As the Yanks eye both the division and American League Wild Card races, they remain encouraged by their midseason remodeling -- particularly in the bullpen, where their bolstered relief corps entered play on Friday leading the Majors with a 1.86 ERA since the All-Star break.

Now, as the Yankees prepare for a stretch of 10 straight rivalry games -- beginning with three against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium -- Gardner expressed confidence that the offense will be able to smooth their erratic results.

"If I knew the answer, I'd try to push a button and get better at it immediately," Gardner said. "It's just one of those things we've just got to keep working at."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.