- Associated Press - Saturday, April 5, 2014

TORONTO (AP) - R.A. Dickey couldn’t control his knuckleball in his first start of the season.

But the former Cy Young winner found a groove with his floating pitch on Saturday.

Dickey and three relievers combined for a shutout, Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.

“The knuckleball was electric and his command of it was really good,” catcher Josh Thole said.

Dickey (1-1) allowed six runs, five hits and matched a career-worst with six walks in his season-opening start at Tampa Bay last Monday. He turned that around with 6 2-3 scoreless innings against the Yankees, walking one and striking out six.

“He had it working today,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “The other day in Tampa it wasn’t on. Today it was on. This was a big game for us, we needed to bounce back, he stepped up.”

Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, said improved velocity was the key to his strong start.

“My velocities were a lot better this time through than they were in Tampa,” he said. “It’s nice to get over that against a very good ball club in the AL East.”

Aaron Loup got one out and Brett Cecil two before Sergio Santos worked the final 1 1-3 innings for his second save in as many chances.

Right-hander Michael Pineda (0-1) made his first major league start in pinstripes since he was acquired in a January 2012 trade with Seattle. Pineda hurt his shoulder that spring and underwent season-ending surgery in May. He was activated off the disabled list in July 2013 and finished the season with Triple-A Scranton.

Starting for the first time since September 2011, Pineda gave up five hits in six innings, walked none and struck out five. The right-hander threw 83 pitches, 58 strikes, and retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.

“He was great,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “His fastball was excellent, his slider was really good.”

Girardi was less pleased with a play at home plate in the third inning that saw the Yankees denied a run.

With New York trailing 1-0, Francisco Cervelli hit a leadoff double and tried to score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out single to center. Colby Rasmus made a one-hop throw to the plate, where Thole tagged Cervelli to end the inning.

After Girardi came out to argue, crew chief Dana DeMuth, the plate umpire, reviewed whether Thole had blocked the plate and whether Cervelli has beaten the tag. DeMuth upheld both decisions.

“I believe this is going to be the toughest overall for (umpires) to get right all the time,” Girardi said. “To me, it’s a vague interpretation of what blocking home plate is and I think it needs to be in writing.”

New rules instituted this season prevent catchers from blocking a runner’s path to the plate unless they have possession of the ball. Replays showed Thole was straddling the plate while awaiting the throw, then dropped his right knee to block Cervelli immediately after receiving the ball.

“The way it was explained to us is if you’re straddling the base in front, toward third base, that is considered to be blocking home plate,” Girardi said. “To me, it’s clear that he’s doing that.”

Cervelli acknowledged being “confused” when he saw Thole blocking his path and said he’d have to ask his coaches for clarification on the rules, and what to do as a runner.

“I was pretty sure what it’s all about, but I’ve got to ask again what’s going on,” Cervelli said.

Even Thole acknowledged being unfamiliar with the rules, approved in January on an experimental basis for 2014.

“I don’t even understand the rule, to be honest,” Thole said. “I don’t know what I would have argued. The ball kind of took me up the line. I just went for the ball.”

NOTES: The Yankees placed 1B Mark Teixeira (right hamstring) on the 15-day DL and recalled C Austin Romine from Triple-A. … Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (left hamstring) took batting practice from both sides of the plate but has not yet resumed running. … LHP CC Sabathia (0-1) faces RHP Drew Hutchison (1-0) in Sunday’s series finale.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide