TORONTO -- Be it fatigue or too much rest, a problem that needs fixing or an anomaly that will right itself, it's clear that CC Sabathia hasn't been the same lately. He notices it, Joe Girardi will profess it, and Friday's events provided further evidence of it.
The series opener at Rogers Centre offered up quite a rarity -- Sabathia being given a two-run lead midway through the game and not being able to keep it. Sabathia's rough outing, Adam Lind's clutch three-run double against him and Jose Molina's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Blue Jays a 5-4 win and handed the Yankees their second straight loss.
The best and most important cog in the Yankees' rotation continued to get hit around.
While giving up four runs in his quest to join Justin Verlander as the only 20-game winner in the Majors, Sabathia gave up 10 hits for the fifth time in his last nine starts -- after doing it only once in his previous 23 outings -- and walked four for the second straight game while failing to pitch six full innings for the first time since April 10.
"It's definitely disappointing, and not being able to go deep into games," Sabathia said. "Last couple of starts, it's just been tough, throwing a lot of pitches in a short amount of time, and it's just frustrating."
The ace left-hander -- and 19-game winner with a 3.01 ERA -- has a 4.56 ERA in his last eight starts. And because the Yankees currently deploy a six-man rotation, Sabathia has pitched with five days in between starts -- and not his regular four -- seven of those times, including this one.
"I'm not here to make excuses," said Sabathia, who gave up 10 hits against the Blue Jays for the first time since 2003 and had his seven-start winning streak against them snapped. "It's totally my fault today that I couldn't go deep in the game. ... It's my job as a starting pitcher to go deep into the games and give these guys a rest, and I haven't been able to do that."
The Blue Jays knocked Sabathia around but didn't get much on the scoreboard until the fifth, when Lind's two-out, bases-loaded double gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. With two outs and the game tied at 4 the following inning, Sabathia walked Jose Bautista to once again load the bases and was pulled with 120 pitches to his name.
"I think he's going to be great for us and he'll continue to be great for us," Girardi said. "Tonight he struggled a little bit, but he gave us a chance to win that game. And we weren't able to score after we tied it 4-4. I mean, I still think CC's going to run off some good starts; I really do."
Nick Swisher tied it in the sixth with his second RBI of the game and David Robertson pulled a typical escape job in the eighth to keep it knotted at 4. But in the ninth, after Boone Logan put runners on first and second with one out, Molina lined Cory Wade's 1-1 fastball over Curtis Granderson's head to plate the winning run and defeat his former team.
The Blue Jays have now won six of their last eight.
"He gave me good pitches," said Molina, who played for the Yankees from 2007-09. "That one was a little up in the zone, so I just took advantage of it and put a good swing on it and found a hole."
The single shrunk the Yankees' lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over the victorious Red Sox and once again denied Mariano Rivera an opportunity to notch an MLB record-tying 601st career save.
The game did feature a few positives, like the two-run homer Eric Chavez hit while filling in for Alex Rodriguez, and that seventh inning that saw Rafael Soriano strike out the side.
But Sabathia's recent stretch was the talking point postgame.
"He just hasn't been quite as sharp," Girardi said. "He went late into a lot of games for us and his innings have piled up. He just hasn't been quite as sharp. Some of his changeups have been cut at times, he hasn't seemed to locate his fastball as well."
For what it's worth, Sabathia will be on normal rest his next time out, since the Yankees have a doubleheader against the Rays on Wednesday.
Sabathia says that's not worth much. He believes that's a non-issue and he doesn't think fatigue is a factor, either. In his mind, he just needs to command his fastball more and use it to pound the strike zone in order to keep his pitch count down.
He probably has two regular-season starts left to get it right.
"My stuff has been there," Sabathia said. "That's what's so frustrating."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.