Blue Jays 3 Yankees 2
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays left for the West Coast feeling a lot better about themselves after securing a series split Sunday with the American League East-leading New York Yankees.
“I love the way we’re playing right now, to be honest with you,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after a 3-2 comeback win over the visiting Yankees. “Pitching for the most part’s been really really good. We’re starting to hit home runs. We did that again today. They accounted for all three runs there. So that’s a good sign.”
Justin Smoak, with his 14th homer of the season, tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Then Josh Donaldson celebrated his bobblehead day with a solo blast off reliever Tyler Clippard to open the eighth.
Matt Holliday drove in runs for the Yankees in the fourth and sixth,
Toronto (28-29) wrapped up its 10-game homestand at 7-3. Next stop is Oakland followed by Seattle.
Sunday marked the 10th win in 13 outings for the Jays, who are slowly digging themselves out of a 2-11 hole to start the season.
“I think we needed it,” Gibbons said of the victory. “I think it would have been a kick in the teeth had we not won that one. You lose three out of four at home, that’s never good — primarily because of where we’re sitting right now. I think that was a huge huge win for us for the guys.”
There were other reasons to celebrate.
It was another strong showing by starter Marcus Stroman, who came into the game on a five-game win streak.
The right-hander retired the first seven batters he faced until Chase Headley singled with one out in the third. He gave up two runs on five hits in six innings, striking out four and walking one in a 105-pitch outing.
Yankees starter Luis Severino was equally impressive, Smoak homer aside. He walked Kevin Pillar to open the game — on pitches of 97.1, 96.0, 98.5, 98.8 and 97.7 m.p.h. — and then dispatched the next eight batters he faced, with his fastball reaching 99.7 m.p.h..
He lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Smoak matched his home run total of last season with his 14th of the year. The 429-foot blast, which brought Kendrys Morales home, ended a 15-inning scoring drought at the hands of the Yankees.
“It’s amazing,” Donaldson said of Smoak’s season.
The Jays third baseman snapped out of a bobbleday day funk with his sixth homer of the season.
“A good fastball down and away,” said Clippard. “I got him to ground out (Saturday) on a good one, located. I didn’t locate it today.”
The ball left Donaldson’s bat at 100 m.p.h. and travelled 384 feet to right centre-field to the delight of the sellout crowd of 46,782 with the Rogers Centre roof closed.
It was Donaldson’s third bobblehead day — “and I’ve been terrible for two of them,” he said.
There was more good news for Toronto in the fact X-rays showed nothing was broken after second baseman Devon Tavis was hit on the hand by a 95 m.p.h. Severino delivery in the seventh. The impact caused him to run towards the dugout as if trying to outrun the pain.
He couldn’t. Travis finished the inning but gave way to Ryan Goins for the eighth.
“I thought I had broke it. It was really scary,” said Travis, who had ice on his hand after the game.
New York (33-22) finished its seven-game road trip at 3-4. The Yankees return to the Bronx to host Boston and Baltimore.
“I think you could have said it would have been a good road trip if we had won today,” said manager Joe Girardi. “It’s an OK road trip. You don’t want to have a losing road trip.”
Rookie colossus Aaron Judge showed there’s more to his game than the long ball as the Yankees opened the scoring in the fourth. Judge singled with one out, stole a base, advanced to third on a throwing error and came home on Holliday’s double off the centre-field wall. Stroman needed 26 pitches to get out of the inning.
Aaron Loup, Joe Smith (2-0) and Roberto Osuna followed Stroman. Osuna struck out Judge, Holliday and Starlin Castro en route to his 13th save.
Toronto outhit New York 7-6.
After going 8-17 — including a 2-11 start — in a dismal May, the Jays rebounded with an 18-10 May. After Sunday, they are 2-2 in June.