Happ tosses six innings as Blue Jays fall to Yankees

J.A. Happ would pitch six strong innings but Toronto would give up a costly run in the ninth and lose 4-3 to the New York Yankees.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira drove in runs, leading the New York Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Jose Bautista returned to Toronto’s lineup after missing three games with a stiff neck. He was 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

Making his second road appearance of spring training, Rodriguez drove in Caesar Puello from third in the sixth inning with a line drive to centre field following a long battle with Toronto starter J.A. Happ. Teixeira added another run one batter later on a fielder’s choice.


Teixeira, who is batting just .111 in 36 plate appearances, contributed his slow start to bad timing on his swings.

"I keep grounding out, and I did it again today — twice," he said. "There’s a little thing in my swing that is making my timing off. We have another week to fix it, and I feel really good that we’ll do that."

A-Rod also struck out swinging and grounded out. The three-time AL MVP raised his average to .303 but has not homered since his first at-bat March 3 against Philadelphia.

"I just know my body feels good," Rodriguez said. "I’m excited (and) I’m in a good frame of mind."

Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell allowed one hit — a double by Justin Smoak — and struck out four in four innings.

STARTING TIME

Yankees: Vying to replace Adam Warren as the team’s long reliever and spot starter, Mitchell threw 49 pitches, 29 for strikes. The righty has a 0.61 ERA in five exhibition outings.

"I think my goal coming into spring training was to make this team in any role," he said. "So, I feel like I’ve put myself in a good position to do that, but I’m not really trying to stress about those things, just try to focus on what I’m doing."

Blue Jays: Happ yielded five hits and struck out two in six innings. It was only the lefty’s third outing — and first since a March 9 game at Tampa Bay.

"He’s having a good spring, he feels good, but we’ve had to pitch him in the minor leagues a little bit to get some other guys some work," manager John Gibbons said.


TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised right wrist) is expected to play Sunday for the first time since being hit by a pitch against Atlanta last weekend. He took on-field batting practice in Tampa for the third consecutive day and also tracked pitches during the bullpen sessions of Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino.

Blue Jays: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (strained oblique) took on-field batting practice without any visible limitations and is scheduled to play in a minor league game Monday. . 2B Devon Travis (left shoulder) took a significant step in his rehabilitation program, playing catch, fielding grounders and hitting off a tee during pregame warmups. Travis had been shut down from all baseball activities since having screws placed in the shoulder during a November procedure to stabilize a non-fused bone.


Download it now: iOS | Android | Windows | Special Offer


NOT-SO-HAPPY BIRTHDAY

A day after suffering a bloody lip when a ground ball took a bad hop off his face, Yankees 3B prospect Rob Refsnyder was forced to leave the game in the eighth after another hard grounder skipped up and struck him on the right cheek.

His face red and swollen, Refsnyder, who turned 25 on Saturday, was assisted to the clubhouse by a trainer before leaving the ballpark to see a doctor.

MOVING DAY

The Yankees optioned LHP James Pazos and RHP Nick Rumbelow to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before the game. Both were September call-ups last season, and manager Joe Girardi believes they will be able to help the big league club again at some point this season.

"Their command has struggled a little bit in spring training and we feel like to get them going, we thought it was best to send them down and make sure they’re in a constant routine," he said.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi will make his third start Sunday against the Twins in Tampa. The right-hander has not allowed a run in two outings.

Blue Jays: Drew Hutchison gets the start Sunday against the Rays in Port Charlotte. The right-hander gave up one run in four innings at Detroit on Tuesday.