Yankees 12 Blue Jays 2
TORONTO — Marco Estrada left two specific pitches up in the zone and Gary Sanchez made him pay for both.
The Yankees catcher has developed a habit of doing that to the Toronto right-hander.
Sanchez hit two home runs off Estrada change-ups on Thursday — the same pitches he hit out twice in a game last August at Yankee Stadium — as New York pummelled the Blue Jays 12-2, snapping Toronto’s hope of starting June on a winning note.
“It’s basically what he did last time at their place, I missed two change-ups and he crushed those too, so I’ve got to stop missing change-ups,” Estrada said. “He can hit them, obviously.
“When they’re down I get swings and misses, when they’re up like that they get hit a long way.”
Estrada (4-3) allowed seven runs total on nine hits. He also walked two and struck out four while snapping his own string of three straight wins.
But the 33-year-old, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings, was more frustrated over when he left the game rather than how he left it.
“Obviously it’s a tough outing — I got hit around a bunch, I didn’t make any good pitches, it just wasn’t there — but I’m more upset about having the bullpen pick up all those innings,” Estrada said. “It’s my job to go deep in these games regardless of how many runs I give up.”
The last-place Blue Jays (26-28) looked to have turned a corner in May, going 18-10 after an 8-17 April. They finished the month with a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds and hoped to continue that streak into June.
But the AL East leading Yankees (31-20) wouldn’t allow it, attacking Estrada right from the start.
He needed 29 pitches to get out of a disastrous first inning that saw New York send eight men to the plate and score four runs. Aaron Judge started it off by plating Brett Gardner from second base with a single — his 38th RBI of the season — before a bases-clearing double from Aaron Hicks, his first of three on the night, added three more runs.
Hicks had a banner night, driving in six runs on four hits and Chase Headley had two RBI’s. Gardner had a milestone night, reaching 1,000 career hits as the Yankees piled on 15 hits in all.
CC Sabathia (6-2) struck out seven and allowed five hits and one run through 6 1/3 to improve to 8-3 at Rogers Centre.
Kendrys Morales and Ezequiel Carrera hit solo homers late for Toronto.
The Yankees increased their lead to 5-0 in the second inning with the first of Sanchez’s two homers — a solo shot to left field. His second of the game two innings later came with a runner on to give New York a 7-0 lead.
Estrada got Judge swinging for the second out of the fourth inning but was pulled after giving up another single to Matt Holliday. He was replaced by Leonel Campos, who had been recalled from triple-A Buffalo earlier that day.
“We made him work really hard,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Estrada. “He threw a lot of pitches the first inning, threw a bunch of pitches in the second inning, and it made a difference.”
Campos went three innings, allowing two runs, neither of them earned and J.P. Howell was charged with three Yankees runs in the ninth.
“I thought it just wasn’t (Estrada’s) night and that’s rare,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “I don’t remember the last time we saw an outing like that.”
Morales led off the seventh with his 11th homer to put Toronto on the board. Carrera added a solo shot off Chad Green in the eighth.
NOTES: Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35 earned-run average) is expected to return off the disabled list (shoulder) to start for Toronto against the Yankees on Friday. New York counters with Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32 ERA). … Michelle Cherny of Pride Toronto threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Kevin Pillar, who was suspended two games last month after yelling an anti-gay slur at a Braves pitcher during a game in Atlanta. … Attendance was 37,722.