In yesterday's 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees on a sun-drenched day at the Rogers Centre, Cecil was a study in contrasts.
The rookie lefty, in what was his penultimate start of the season, walked three batters, hit another, gave up two homers and yet left the game with the Jays down only 3-2.
Yet he also appeared unprepared mentally.
He gave up a fourth-inning solo homer to Robinson Cano on the first pitch of the inning, then another solo shot to Mark Teixeira on the second pitch of the fifth.
Managers and coaches often look at home runs on the first pitch of an inning as evidence of a lack of focus.
But Jays manager Cito Gaston wasn't overly worried about the home runs. The walks and pitching behind in the count - especially to the AL East-leading Yankees - represented a source of frustration.
"He struggled with his control again," Gaston said. "It's the pitches for me (99 in just 41/3 innings of work). We were in the game but there were the walks ... and he was struggling most of the time. You can't pitch that many pitches in that short amount of time and expect to win."
Cecil, though, also understood he must do a better job of limiting both the walks and homers he's giving up. He now has failed to pitch out of the fifth inning in his past five starts. He is 2-4 in eight starts with an ERA of 6.98 against AL East teams. Comparitively, he is 4-0, 4.22 against all other teams.
"I felt for the most part I was on top of it, but when you get balls up to those guys (Cano and Teixeira) they do what they're supposed to do with it," Cecil said.
What the Jays want to see out of him is evidence he is prepared to take a spot in next year's rotation.
"When Boomer was young (ex- Jay David Wells) he could throw strikes," Gaston said. "The kids (young Jay pitchers) are going to have to learn to throw down in the zone."
The Yankees, meanwhile, struck for two runs in the sixth inning after Cecil left the game. Walks once again were the ROOT of all evil as reliever Casey Janssen issued a pair of free passes before Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada each drove in a run.
Yankees starter Andy Pettitte upped his record to 13-6 in allowing four runs and four hits in six innings.
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion walked in the bottom of the sixth and came home on a triple from Jose Bautista. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was charged with a throwing error on the relay to third, and it allowed Bautista to trot home with a second run that cut New York's lead to 5-4.
A brilliant double play to end the eighth from Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill had fans thinking comeback, but Phil Hughes - with a mid-90s fastball - closed the door to send the Yankees to their second win in three games of this four-game series with Toronto.
The finale goes today at 1 p.m. with Brian Tallet on the mound for Toronto.Sign up for breaking news alerts from FOXSports.com!