Yankees clobber Blue Jays in opener of key divisional series, climb to 2nd in AL East
Toronto's Walker, Yamaguchi concede 14 runs in combined 3 innings pitched
The Yankees have transformed back into Bronx Bombers after a three-week stretch in which they nearly bombed out of post-season contention.
DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit and became the first players at the top of New York's batting order to have five RBIs the same game, and New York rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended its winning streak to six.
Voit homered twice from the No. 2 slot, raising his major league-leading total to 18. Voit and Aaron Hicks went deep to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs.
LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, raising his average 13 points to .363. He homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking velocity of pitches in 2008.
Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay, and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.
New York has rebounded following a 5-15 stretch that nearly dropped it out of the eight playoff places in the AL and has closed within two games of Minnesota (30-20) for the No. 4 seed — and a first-round series at home. The Yankees (27-21) and Blue Jays (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks.
Clint climbs aboard the HR train: <a href="https://t.co/6W8jwSIwVo">pic.twitter.com/6W8jwSIwVo</a>—@Yankees
"Makes for some sleepless nights," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "And now as we get more and more guys back and healthy and in the mix, I know we're capable of amazing things."
Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela returned from the injured list, and the Yankees could get Aaron Judge back Wednesday. They opened a roster spot after Tuesday's game by optioning infielder Thairo Estrada to the alternate site.
Stanton was 0 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 games because of a strained left hamstring.
Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 games with a right elbow bone spur.
"It's good right now. No pain," Urshela said.
Rookie Deivi Garcia (2-1) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, in position to be part of the post-season rotation.
New York scored its most runs since a 20-6 win at Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2015. The Yankees batted around in the second, third and fourth innings, the first time they achieved the feat in three consecutive frames since doing it from the fifth through eighth innings in a 22-9 rout of Oakland on Aug. 25, 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Walker, Yamaguchi struggle
Taijuan Walker (3-3) was chased after 1 2/3 innings, trailing 7-1 after allowing six unearned runs.
"Errors are going to happen, it's part of the game," he said. "I've got to find a way to pick my teammates up there."
Shun Yamaguchi followed with a performance out of youth ball. The 33-year-old right-hander, who signed with the Blue Jays for this season after 14 years in the Japanese major leagues, walked his first three batters in the third, hit the next two, allowed LeMahieu's three-run double and also threw a wild pitch and committed a balk.
Yamaguchi, like Walker, allowed seven runs, but all of Yamaguchi's were earned. Toronto needed 190 pitches to get 24 outs.
Walker got the first out of the bottom half before allowing Urshela's double. Frazier hit a routine fly to the warning track that glanced off Fisher's glove for an error.
"It was a catchable ball and he just dropped it," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "Of course that got them going. We all know that."
Two pitches later, Fisher tried for a backhand grab on the warning track and missed Brett Gardner's drive, which fell for a tying single. Tyler Wade and LeMahieu followed with RBI singles for a 3-1 lead, and Voit hit a three-run drive that landed in the left-field bleachers 426 feet from the plate.
Hicks drove the next pitch into the second deck in right. Voit added a solo homer off Ken Giles in the sixth.
"We've had a lot of weird things happening this year," Voit said, "so I had to step up and play a bigger role."