NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi shrugged his shoulders a few times, smirked some, too. He has no magic formula for his ballclub’s winning ways despite an ever-growing list of players crowding the trainer’s room.
“Guys keep stepping up, just like they did (Friday night),” Girardi said. “You just keep finding ways. That’s what you do.”
New York got plenty of help from the sloppy Toronto Blue Jays in a 6-4 victory in which catcher Francisco Cervelli and starting pitcher Ivan Nova both left with injuries before there was an out in the third inning.
Phelps struck out a career-high nine in four innings after relieving the Nova, who left with right elbow pain, and Chris Stewart threw out two baserunners to quash potential rallies as an emergency fill-in for Cervelli after the catcher broke his right hand when he was hit by a foul ball.
“We’ve been fighting all year,” Phelps said. “We’re a scrappy bunch.”
Cervelli was hurt when Rajai Davis fouled Nova’s fifth pitch of the game straight back into the catcher’s bare hand. Cervelli is scheduled to have surgery in New York on Saturday and will miss at least six weeks.
He was off to a solid start after spending nearly all of last season in Triple-A, earning most of the starts behind the plate.
“It’s disappointing, and I know it’s really disappointing for him because of all that he’s been through to get to this point,” Girard said.
The Yankees will bring up catching prospect Austin Romine from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
Nova followed Cervelli’s early exit two innings later, walking off the mound after giving up a single to Davis. He Had an MRI but the results weren’t yet available.
Girardi said Nova complained of stiffness after the second inning, but he wanted to go back out. Nova allowed two batters to reach to start the third before Girardi lifted him.
“I was under the impression it was above the elbow,” Girardi said about Nova’s injury.
Kevin Youkilis was not available for the sixth straight game because of lower back tightness, and he may be headed to the disabled list Saturday. And then, of course, there are the four All-Stars: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera have all been out since the beginning of the season.
Lyle Overbay hit a go-ahead RBI triple and Vernon Wells had a sacrifice fly off Aaron Laffey in an inning the fill-in starter for Josh Johnson walked four, helping New York overcome two homers by Edwin Encarnacion to improve to 13-9.
David Robertson yielded a long homer to Jose Bautista in the eighth but Brett Gardner restored New York’s two-run lead with a homer in the bottom half of the inning. Mariano Rivera loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth but struck out Colby Rasmus to end it for his eighth save in eight chances.
The Blue Jays led early for the second straight night and outhit New York 10-6 but failed to execute on both sides of the ball in dropping to 1-4 on their seven-game road trip. They were sloppy on the basepaths, getting caught stealing twice — once at third base to end the third — struck out 13 times and their pitchers walked 10. Toronto also allowed New York to score on a wild pitch and passed ball.
“Basically what’s happening is we’re playing good enough to lose, we’re not playing good enough to win,” Blue jays manager John Gibbons said.
Nova gave up Encarnacion’s homer leading off the second and left the third after allowing the first two batters to reach.
Phelps (1-1) took about 5 minutes to warm up then gave up an RBI single to Rasmus. Phelps then struck out Bautista and Encarnacion.
Stewart completed an inning-ending double play after Encarnacion fanned by throwing out Davis trying to steal third base. It was the second baserunner Stewart threw out in two innings after he began the day sitting on a couch in the clubhouse reading a book in the “Game of Thrones” series, planning on serving as the backup.
Laffey was starting for Johnson after be claimed off waivers Tuesday by the Blue Jays. He was let go by the Mets after four uninspiring outings, and this one was no better. In 2 2-3 innings, he gave up two hits, two runs and walked five. Laffey was designated for assignment after the game.
“I just couldn’t throw strikes,” Laffey said. “There’s no excuse for walking five batters, regardless of rest or whatever schedule we have. You should never go out there and walk five guys. Just pitch to contact. Just let them hit it like I normally do. It’s just out of character for me.”
Johnson was skipped with right triceps tightness.
He lost control in the bottom of the third. The six batters he faced before being lifted were not credited with an at-bat. Laffey walked four, Brett Gardner had a sacrifice bunt and Vernon Wells a tying sacrifice fly.
Brad Lincoln (0-1) relieved and struck out Ichiro Suzuki with the bases loaded to maintain the 2-all score.
But Lincoln hit Eduardo Nunez with a pitch to start the fourth and Overbay followed with a triple to center field, snapping an 0 for 16 hitless skid. He scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
Phelps didn’t allow another hit after Rasmus until Encarnacion hit his second long ball of the night leading off the sixth, a drive off the back wall of the Toronto bullpen. He has homered in four straight games
NOTES: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said there is no set plan for Ricky Romero. In extended spring training to work on his mechanics, Romero is scheduled to make his first start for Class A Dunedin on Saturday. … Yankees RHP Shawn Kelly turned 29 Friday. … Encarnacion has nine career multihomer games.