Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ross Stripling (48) throws the ball during the first inning of MLB action against the New York Yankees in Toronto on Monday, May 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Torres drives in three runs as Yankees edge Blue Jays for 10th straight win

Torres drives in three runs as Yankees edge Blue Jays for 10th straight win

TORONTO — Gleyber Torres hit a two-run homer and singled home the deciding run in the ninth as the New York Yankees won their 10th straight, edging the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in a battle of American League East heavyweights Monday.

David Phelps, Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber combined to dispatch 12 straight Yankee hitters in the wake of Toronto starter Ross Stripling, who exited after five innings with the score tied at 2-2.

Yimi Garcia (0-2) came on in the ninth for Toronto, yielding a leadoff single to Giancarlo Stanton to end the streak. Pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second. After former Jay Josh Donaldson grounded out, Aaron Hicks struck out and Torres singled home Locastro for a 3-2 lead.

Chad Green pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for New York for the save. Reliever Clay Holmes (2-0) got the win,

Toronto had two men on in the seventh and eighth but was unable to cash them in.

It was a big sports night in Toronto.

The announced crowd of 18,577 at the Rogers Centre saw two elite teams with the Yankees topping the MLB overall standings and the Jays tied for fourth. Less than a kilometre to the east, the Maple Leafs opened the NHL playoffs against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.

The Jays (15-9) scored weekend victories over visiting Houston and had won three of their last four and nine of their last 12. Toronto has yet to lose a series this season (6-0-1) with the lone split a four-game series with the Yankees in the Bronx last month.

The Yankees (17-6) arrived having outscored Kansas City, Baltmore and Cleveland by a combined 67-28 in consecutive sweeps. New York, which had won 11 of its last 12, had not lost since April 21 when it was blanked 3-0 by Detroit.

Jays manager Charlie Montoyo downplayed the importance of the three-game series at this early stage of the season.

“We just got to May. We had a hell of a great April (14-8) — so three more games. They all count,” he said prior to the game. “One game at a time. But whatever happens, all right we have four months left. Let’s not make a big deal of three games.

“But, of course, any time we play (a team in) our division, we want to win every game.”

Coming into the game, the Jays and Yankees led the majors with 31 home runs apiece.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit two homers in Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Royals, including a 453-foot blast, to up his season total to eight. Judge arrived in Toronto on a roll, having homered in each of the previous three games and had five home runs in his last five games and seven in his last eight.

Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo came into play Monday leading the majors in homers with nine, seven of which have come at Yankee Stadium.

Judge and Rizzo are just the second pair of Yankee teammates to each hit at least eight homers in the first 22 games of a season. Yogi Berra (10 homers) and Mickey Mantle (11) did it in 1956.

Torres put the visitors ahead in the fourth inning with a two-out, two-run blast that flew 376 feet in dropping the right-field fence. Donaldson had singled to get on base.

Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery, making his fifth start of the campaign, was economical and effective for the first three innings. He gave up a single to George Springer to open the game, then retired the next eight batters before Springer singled again to open the fourth.

Bo Bichette doubled home Springer for the Jays’ first run. Matt Chapman then singled home Bichette to tie it at 2-2. Montgomery gave up two more singles with two out in the inning but escaped without further damage.

Stripling, in his fourth start of the season, delivered a 63-pitch outing that featured five hits, three strikeouts and two earned runs.

Montgomery gave way to hard-throwing Jonathan Loaisiga after yielding a single to Bichette to open the sixth. The Yankees starter struck out five and gave up six hits and two earned runs in a 65-pitch outing.

There was some good defence on display with Stanton climbing high to catch a Chapman blast to the right-field wall in the second inning. Earlier in the inning, Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal showed his fielding class, getting to a sharply hit Torres grounder.

Stripling, who showed some fielding chops of his own in the early going, survived the third when the Yankees had two men on with one out, striking out Judge and getting Rizzo to fly out.

Six-foot-six Jays right-hander Alek Manoah (4-0) is slated to face six-foot-five Yankee right-hander Jameson Taillon (1-1) on Tuesday.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Baseball