TORONTO -- Compared with Mark Buehrle's run of futility against the Yankees -- the Blue Jays starter has not beaten the Yankees in more than 10 years and has now lost 11 straight decisions to them -- Chris Capuano's winless streak was decidedly modest.
He had not won in six starts, since he joined the Yankees on July 24, and had won only once in his past 14 starts as a starter, a stretch back to July 28, 2013.
He had pitched well enough to win in three of his six starts as a Yankee, and even in the other three he had not allowed more than four earned runs in any of them.
Worst of all, he had left his latest start, against the White Sox on August 24 at Yankee Stadium, leading 4-3 after six innings only to see closer David Robertson blow it by allowing a ninth-inning home run to Avisail Garcia (the Yankees eventually won 7-4 on Brian McCann's pinch-hit home run in the 10th).
So earning the win tonight was especially sweet for Capuano, a veteran lefty who had been released by the Red Sox on July 1 and given up on by the Colorado Rockies, after just four minor-league starts, three weeks later.
"I couldn't be prouder to get a win as a Yankee," he said. "It feels really good."
For most of the game, Capuano had command of his repertoire of off-speed pitches, and he kept the Blue Jays off-balance with a mixture of curveballs, changeups, sliders and the occasional 92 mph fastball. He slipped up once when he allowed a two-seamer to stray up in the zone to Jose Bautista, who deposited the baseball in the left-field seats in the fourth inning, and he tired in the seventh, as he allowed a walk and an RBI double before Joe Girardi came to get him.
But Capuano's finest moment -- and probably, the turning point of the game -- came in the fifth inning, when he worked his way out of a first-and-third, one-out jam by getting Jose Reyes to pop up to the infield and Melky Cabrera to hit into a forceout.
“I was just trying to keep my focus small right there, keep focusing on making pitches," he said. "I can’t do anything about the baserunners, so [I] just try to make pitches and get out of it. Fortunately, we did.”
"He just locates," Girardi said. "I thought he changed speeds really well. I thought his changeup was good tonight. I thought he threw some good cutters. He kept them off-balance."
Say what now?: Derek Jeter has faced Buehrle many times in his career -- he has 16 hits in 49 career at-bats against him for a .327 BA -- but seemed to have no idea that the most recent time Buehrle had beaten the Yankees was April 10, 2004, when Buehrle was a member of the Chicago White Sox. Buehrle is now 1-13 in 20 career starts against the Yankees.
"Mark is a handful," Jeter said, using his favorite expression for an opposing pitcher. "He knows what he’s doing. He keeps you off-balance and never really throws the ball over the plate. He’s not easy to score on; he’s had a successful career for a reason. We were fortunate to score enough.”
Informed of Buehrle's winless streak against the Yankees -- he has the second-worst record against the Yankees of any pitcher in baseball history, behind only Red Ruffing, who was 1-16 against them before being lucky enough to join the Yankees and eventually become a Hall of Famer -- Jeter stared blankly.
"I don't pay any attention to stats," he said. "That’s baseball. Sometimes you play games and funny things happen. It’s not like we’re all running to the bat racks when Buehrle is pitching. He’s got great stuff, and he’s a competitor. I’m sure he wants the ball when we face him. I think that’s just a freak thing.”
Asked what he thought Buehrle's winless streak meant, the ever-optimistic Jeter said, "It means he's due."
Gardner back on track: Brett Gardner, the Yankees most consistent hitter for most of the season, has hit just .195 in August to see his batting average plummet to .268. But he had arguably the biggest hit of the game when he jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Beuhrle and drove it over Melky Cabrera's head in right for a two-run double that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead and snapped a streak in which the Yankees had scored just two runs in the previous 21 innings, which stretches back to their eight-run inning against the Tigers and David Price on Wednesday.
"To get a big hit in a big situation, the way Buehrle was dealing and we were losing 1-0, it felt good," he said. "I’ve been watching everybody else contribute, so it was nice to pick guys up.”
Owning the Jays: The Yankees victory improved their record over Toronto to 22-10 since the beginning of 2013.