NEW YORK — When the Toronto Blue Jays headed home on Sunday evening after yet another loss at Yankee Stadium, they were 6 1/2 games out for the AL's second wild card with seven games to play.
"It's not looking too great," Jose Bautista said after the 5-2 defeat. "The stars are going to have to align for us if anything's going to happen."
Toronto has not played a postseason game since Joe Carter's World Series-winning home run off Mitch Williams 21 years ago, and that streak of futility is not likely to end this year. A 1-6 trip to Baltimore and New York pretty much ended the Blue Jays' already feint postseason hopes.
"Obviously, it's real disappointing," Drew Hutchison (10-13) said after his second loss on the trip.
Masahiro Tanaka made a triumphant return from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 2 1/2 months, and a rejuvenated Derek Jeter got yet another big hit on his final homestand. Toronto dropped to 3-20 at Yankee Stadium since September 2012.
"It's never an easy place to play," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Tanaka started sensationally at 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his first 14 appearances. But he slumped in his next four and hadn't pitched since July 8 after scans discovered a slight tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. Rather than opt for Tommy John surgery, which would have sidelined him for about a year, Tanaka and the Yankees chose a rehabilitation strengthening protocol.
Tanaka (13-4) responded by allowing one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings with four strikeouts, no walks and a hit batter.
"He looked like he was the same guy that we faced earlier," Bautista said. "His velocity might have been down one or two miles, but that's not a lot. The movement was the same."
With fans in the crowd of 48,144 giving him standing ovations during every at-bat on the gray, overcast afternoon, Jeter went 2 for 4 and finished his next-to-last home series 8 for 15 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs. Jeter saluted the crowd after sharing postgame handshakes and high-fives with his teammates.
Bautista made it a point to speak with Jeter at second base during the game.
"He's one of the most complete all-around players that you can have or that you can think about," Bautista said. "This is an example for all of us to follow."
Tanaka allowed a run in first when Jose Reyes singled to right center, went to third on Bautista's ground single to right through the shifted infield and came home on Edwin Encarnacion's double-play grounder. After Munenori Kawasaki had a one-double in the second, he retired 11 of his next 12 batters. Tanaka went to a three-ball count just once.
Hutchison gave up solo homers to Brian McCann in the first and Brett Gardner in the fifth — the 15,000th in Yankees history since the franchise started playing in New York in 1903. Jeter's single finished Hutchison after four-plus innings.
"Poor execution and poor command of my fastball," said Hutchison, who lost his fourth straight road decision.
As disappointed Toronto players walked off after the final out, Jeter saluted his adoring fans.
"I don't think anything he does surprises anybody," Gibbons said. "The game's going to miss him."
Toronto starting pitchers had gone six innings or more in a team-record 26 consecutive games, seven more than the previous mark in 1998 and the longest in the major leagues since the 2003 Mariners strung together 27.
Jose Reyes had three hits and swiped two bases, reaching 30 in a season for the eighth time.
Blue Jays: 1B Adam Lind missed his second straight game because of back pain.
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