Second class? Yanks fall from perch

NEW YORK -- All of a sudden, the New York Yankees are looking vulnerable on the field and up at another team in the standings.

The Yankees' 8-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night, combined with the Tampa Bay Rays' 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, means the Yankees have fallen into second place in the American League East.

The last time the Yankees were not in first place? Way back on June 13.

"There were gonna be bumps in the road for every team in this division," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're all gonna go through it. You try to keep it as short as possible, try to turn it around tomorrow."

The Yankees still have the second-best record in baseball and easily would win the wild card if the season ended today. Nonetheless, after their second straight home loss to the fourth-place Jays, the Bronx Bombers are looking and sounding a little less, er, bombastic.

That especially goes for slugger Alex Rodriguez, who failed for the 12th straight game to hit career home run No. 600, after embarrassingly not showing up for the team's annual photo shoot earlier in the day.

Rodriguez addressed the media before the game, admitting he simply forgot to check the players' required report time for Tuesday's game. He did not speak to the media after the game, during which he went 0-for-3 and extended his hitless streak to 17 straight at-bats.

However, the Yankees' pitching has been the team's biggest problem the past two days. On Monday night, A.J. Burnett continued his wildly inconsistent 2010 season, getting blistered by the Blue Jays for eight runs in just 4 2/3 innings.

On Tuesday, journeyman Dustin Moseley took the ball. Moseley, making his second start in place of the injured Andy Pettitte, wasn't nearly as good as he was in his first start (one run in six innings), giving up five runs on nine hits over 7 1/3 innings.

Moseley was efficient -- he threw only 85 pitches, 59 of them for strikes. But he surrendered two of the Blue Jays' four long balls on the night, Travis Snider's two-run shot in the fourth and Vernon Wells' solo bomb in the eighth.

"The fly ball there against Snider, I thought was a fly ball, and it just kept going and kept going," Moseley said. "It kinda took the breath out of us a little bit."

Pettitte, meanwhile, was scheduled to throw half a bullpen session Tuesday. Girardi said before the game that if that half-session went well, Pettitte would throw a full session later this week, most likely Friday.

But the fact remains, Pettitte probably is still at least a couple of weeks away from rejoining the team. And with Burnett and Moseley at the back end of their rotation right now, the Yankees can't feel all that comfortable -- especially if the Rays continue playing like they have of late, winning 10 of their past 11 games.

The Yankees' offense had an off day Tuesday, mustering only two hits against Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero. Romero hurled a complete game, allowing only Mark Teixeira's two-run homer in the first inning and Marcus Thames' single in the fifth.

"We had some guys that were swinging the bats well coming into the day, and he shut us down," Derek Jeter, who was 0-for-3 with a walk, said of Romero. "Today you tip your hat to him, because he pitched extremely well."

The Yankees will try Wednesday to avoid getting swept in the final game of this three-game set, before the archrival Boston Red Sox arrive in the Bronx for a big four-game series beginning Friday night.

"No one ever said this was going to be easy," Girardi said. "We're in a tough division, and there's a lot of baseball left."

But for one night at least, the Bronx Bombers were going to bed as second-place citizens.

Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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