MLB

Rookie Alejandro Kirk notches home run, 4 hits as Jays take opener against Yankees

The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 11-5 Monday night to drop New York 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

21-year-old Mexican becomes youngest catcher in 16 years to record 4-hit game

Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk (85) is greeted by teammates after hitting a home run during the Blue Jays' 11-5 win over the New York Yankees on Monday. (Adrian Kraus/The Associated Press)

Rookie Alejandro Kirk became the first catcher 21 or younger since Johnny Bench with at least four hits that included two for extra bases, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 11-5 Monday night to drop New York 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Kirk, who played at Class A last season and made his debut Sept. 12, singled in the third off Michael King, doubled in the fourth against Jonathan Loaisiga, singled in the fifth off Nick Nelson and hit an opposite-field homer to right in seventh off Chad Green for his first four-hit game.

"He's always looking for a pitch to hit, and he did that today," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Speaking through a translator, Kirk called his big night "unbelievable."

"I was just feeling so comfortable tonight," he said.

Bench accomplished the feat as part of a five-hit game for Cincinnati at Philadelphia on Aug. 3, 1969, according to STATS.

Randal Grichuk hit his first homer since Aug. 28 and drove in two runs for the Blue Jays.

New York had won 10 straight before Sunday's 10-2 loss at Fenway Park. The Yankees allowed 10 or more runs in back-to-back games for the first time since July 25 and 26, 2019 against Boston and lost for the third time in four games this year against the Blue Jays in Buffalo. Centre-fielder Aaron Hicks had trouble with the sky and the lights and allowed a fly ball to drop between himself and right fielder Aaron Judge.

New York (31-23) dropped 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay (36-19) for the AL East lead. The Yankees are in position to be the fifth seed in the playoffs and would play at Minnesota (33-22).

"Today was rough, but we're good, we're where we need to be," Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. "We've got to try to solidify this these last few games to get home field. We know that."

Judge also said he sees no reason for concern as the post-season approaches.

"The guys are still competing," Judge said. "That's all you can ask for."

Big bats

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three hits and three RBIs while Teoscar Hernandez and Bo Bichette each drove in a pair as the Blue Jays (28-26) won their second straight following a season-worst, six-game losing streak. Toronto is on track to be the No. 8 seed and open the playoffs at the Rays.

"They did a lot of their damage with two strikes," manager Aaron Boone said. "The inability to put guys away tonight really cost us."

King (1-2) gave up five runs and five hits in 2 2/3 innings. Eight of 10 batters reached against Loaisiga, including one on a catcher's interference call on Gary Sanchez. Loaisiga asked that a rosin bag be brought to the mound with the bases loaded. Boone said he would speak to Loaisiga to make sure he hadn't needed the rosin bag sooner in that inning.

Blue Jays right-hander Matt Shoemaker was activated off the injured list before the game to make his first appearance since Aug. 21 at Tampa Bay. He allowed one run and three hits in three innings.

Right-hander T.J. Zeuch (1-0) allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings.

Plate umpire Chad Fairchild was hit on the face mask by a foul tip in the top of the second. Fairchild left the game between innings, with Paul Nauert moving behind the plate. Extra umpire Sean Barber replaced Nauert.

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