The ball arced high and kept floating, and right fielder Alex Rios drifted back toward the wall and leapt in a last-ditch effort to rob Damon of a home run. No such luck, as the baseball crashed two rows deep, and Halladay gritted his teeth behind the mound, trying not to watch Damon sprint around the bases after a surprising two-run blast that helped send Toronto to a 6-5 loss in 12 innings.
In another ballpark, it might have been an easy out. In this bandbox in the Bronx, it was another home run.
"It seems to be that way in this park right now," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "Hopefully, we have a couple like that before we leave here."
Damon's shot was the third homer that the Yankees clubbed against Halladay, who was not willing to blame his recent stay on the disabled list for any lingering rust. One thing was certain, Toronto's ace did not look like himself out on the hill, and he turned in a forgettable performance in what has been an otherwise brilliant season.
The home run Halladay yielded to Damon pulled the contest into a 5-5 tie that eventually pushed the game into extra innings. In the home half of the 12th, reliever Shawn Camp, working in his third inning of the day, allowed a walk-off RBI single to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, sending Toronto (42-40) to its sixth loss in seven games and dropping its record to 7-13 against the American League East this year.
"They have a good lineup," said Gaston, referring to the Yankees. "You've just got to hope that you can hold them for a few innings and, of course, score some runs yourself. Otherwise, they will come back and beat you."
Halladay, whose record remains at 10-2 after he escaped with a no-decision, could have cited his recent 16-day layoff for the handful of misplaced pitches he made against New York. The right-hander was shelved with a right groin issue and has gone 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA and an uncharacteristic five walks across 13 innings in the two starts he's made since being activated.
In seven innings, Halladay was charged with five runs, and he issued three walks for the first time since Sept. 20 of last season -- he had walked three batters total in his previous 27 innings. Halladay also surrendered three home runs for the first time since April 6 of last year. Prior to Saturday, Halladay had allowed three homers over his previous 11 trips to the mound.
Doc was not about to make any excuses.
"I don't think so," said Halladay, when asked if the time off may have affected him negatively. "It's a pretty good offensive team, and I made some mistakes. I'm sure the timing of it isn't ideal, but I feel like I did before. It's just a matter of making some poor pitches at times."
Health is not the concern right now for Halladay, but Gaston said that he believes the time on the disabled list might have something to do with the pitcher's command issues.
"I think he's still working on his location," Gaston said. "When I say working on it, most guys would love to have the location he has right now. But when he's really on, he hits his spots all the time. That's the only thing I see -- that I'm pretty sure he's not getting some of the pitches where he'd like to get it right now."
Twice, Toronto's offense provided Halladay with a lead, but he wasn't able to hold either for long.
In the second inning, Rios delivered a two-run single off New York right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. A half-inning later, Halladay surrendered a game-tying solo homer off the bat of Hideki Matsui.
In the sixth inning, the Blue Jays ran out to a 5-3 lead -- powered by a two-run homer from Adam Lind -- but Halladay's ill-fated pitch to Damon erased that advantage in the seventh.
Shortly before Damon's homer, the Jays had an opportune chance to pull away from the Yankees (47-33) in the seventh inning.
Rod Barajas and Marco Scutaro connected for consecutive singles to put runners on first and second for the Jays with no outs. Gaston opted to have second baseman Aaron Hill use a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Following that play, Yankees reliever Brian Bruney intentionally walked Lind to load the bases in order to set up a double play.
Gaston was hoping that chain of events would lead to another clutch hit for hot-hitting third baseman Scott Rolen, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games with a fourth-inning double. Instead, Rolen popped out to New York second baseman Robinson Cano, and Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay followed with a lineout that ended the inning.
"We didn't push anything across there," Gaston said. "If you look back at it -- and we do -- we win the ballgame long before this time. Rolen's done such a great job for us. It's just one of those things that happened -- he popped it up. If you go back and give it to him again, I'm pretty sure he'd probably do something better than that.
"That's just something you have to accept and keep moving."
Much like the home run to Damon, who has been a thorn in Halladay's side throughout his career. With two walks and the two-run shot, Damon improved his career average against the ace to .349, and the 11 walks he's drawn are the most any hitter has against the pitcher.
Then again, the baseball that jumped off Damon's bat in the seventh might have fallen into Rios' glove for an easy out in another other stadium. At Yankee Stadium, it was the 135th home run launched in only 40 games this season.
Halladay would not admit to being surprised that the ball reached the stands.
"I don't know," Halladay said. "I thought we got in enough, but it wasn't. It's hard for me to judge those types of things. There are a couple other things I need to look at first, as far as pitches, before I'm going to start getting into that part of it.
"It was disappointing."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less