Yankees 5 Blue Jays 3
TORONTO — Roy Halladay’s thoughts on the passing of the trade deadline and his staying put continue to be off-limits, but his feelings about the final two months of the season were made perfectly clear Tuesday night.
Asked about what the goal should be for his Toronto Blue Jays over their remaining 56 games, the ace right-hander offered an instant response.
“Win,” he said in a curt session with reporters following a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “It’s the reason you’re here. I don’t think at any point you can pack it in and work on things, I think you have to come out every day and try to win, and I think that’s what it comes down to. We’ve got to find ways to do that, that’s most important.
“That’s what it’s all about at this level, so it’s not development. The goal is to win.”
The Blue Jays (51-55) haven’t been doing much of that lately, and Tuesday’s contest with the Yankees (64-42) reinforced the size of the gap between them and AL East leaders.
Back on the mound for the first time since the non-waiver trade deadline passed without him being dealt, Halladay (11-5) once again was given no margin for error and paid dearly for every mistake he made.
He gave up five runs in his fifth complete game, including pivotal back-to-back home runs to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira with two out in the eighth that put New York up 4-1. Another solo blast by Hideki Matsui leading off the ninth followed Vernon Wells’ two-run double in the bottom of the eighth which had made it 4-3.
The lightning strikes made a winner of Andy Pettitte (9-6), while Mariano Rivera stranded a pair of runners in the ninth to earn his 31st save. Halladay can only dream of similar support, as the Blue Jays have scored just 21 runs in his last eight outings, with him winning just once over that span.
“It hasn’t changed my approach,” he said of constantly pitching in tight games. “I think you go out the same way, but when it’s all said and done, it hurts more.”
Such pain is what led the Blue Jays to explore a trade for Halladay in the first place, and many questions remain over why a deal didn’t get done and where the team needs to go from here.
Halladay won’t talk about how things went down — a member of the team’s PR staff told reporters three times the pitcher wouldn’t answer questions about the trade deadline before the availability — and he wasn’t particularly happy after this one.
Getting him a better supporting cast is key now that he’s still here.
“Everybody is well aware of where we’re at,” Halladay said of the standings. “That can never play into it. If you’re up 10 or down 10, you’re approach has to be the same, you have to go out and try to win every game.
“I think there’s enough motivation for us to go out there and play well.”
The fans are certainly happy Halladay is still here.
A crowd of 33,669 greeted the franchise’s most popular player with another, albeit smaller, standing ovation as he walked to the dugout from the bullpen after his warmups and he was shown love all night long after nearly a month of frenzied speculation over his future.
While that issue is off the table, at least for now, the Blue Jays can give purpose to what remains of their latest season of disappointment by using the games to figure out how to address their many on-field issues for 2010 and beyond.
“I think obviously finishing as strong as we can,” general manager J.P. Ricciardi said of his team’s late-season plans before the game. “We’re getting a lot of experience for our younger kids, which is good.
“I think ultimately we’d like to get (top prospect Travis) Snider back up here at some point, let him get some more playing time, and maybe a few other guys to start preparing ourselves for what we might look like next year.”