Higashioka hits 3 of Yanks' 7 HRs in 13-2 romp vs Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fields the throw as New York Yankees Aaron Judge, left, is thrown out at first base during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jake Seiner, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:46PM EDT
NEW YORK - Kyle Higashioka hit a career-high three home runs, DJ LeMahieu connected twice and the resurgent New York Yankees hit a season-best seven homers in another Bronx air show, thumping the Toronto Blue Jays 13-2 on Wednesday night.
Luke Voit lofted a three-run drive for his major league-leading 19th homer and Clint Frazier added a solo shot as the Yankees won their seventh straight game following a 5-15 slide. New York moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Toronto for second place in the AL East, with the top two teams ensured spots in the expanded post-season that begins in less than two weeks.
LeMahieu, Voit and Frazier also connected Tuesday - Voit homered twice - when New York hit six home runs and pummeled Toronto 20-6. It's the first time the Yankees have hit six homers in consecutive games.
Gerrit Cole (6-3) had another overpowering start for New York, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth. The right-hander completed seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight and walking two. He also took a no-hitter into the fifth in his previous start - a seven-inning, two-hit shutout against Baltimore in the opener of a doubleheader Friday.
Aaron Judge was activated from the injured list but wasn't much help, going hitless with three strikeouts. The two-time All-Star had been out since Aug. 26 after re-aggravating a strained right calf.
Higashioka had never topped three homers in a season but has four in the past six days while emerging as Cole's preferred batterymate. The last New York player with three homers in a game was teammate Gary Sanchez on April 7, 2019 at Baltimore.
The 30-year-old Higashioka hit a two-run homer in the third off Tanner Roark (2-2), a solo shot in the sixth against Jacob Waguespack and another two-run drive in the seventh off Hector Perez. He matched a career high with five RBIs.
One of the organization's longest-tenured players after being drafted in 2008, Higashioka didn't make the majors until 2017 and was routinely shuttled between Triple-A and the majors prior to this season. He started the year as Sanchez's full-time backup and has been getting more playing time as Sanchez struggles. Higashioka is batting .250 in 12 games this season.
New York is the first team in major league history to have their Nos. 1 and 9 hitters connect at least twice in the same game, according to STATS.
Judge's return gives manager Aaron Boone a full stable of position players after injuries to Judge, LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela nearly derailed New York's season.
LeMahieu got the fully loaded Bronx Bombers going with his major league-leading fifth leadoff homer, a liner that narrowly cleared Yankee Stadium's short right field fence. He also had for a two-run shot in the fourth, his ninth of the season. LeMahieu has five career multihomer games, including two this month.
Jonathan Villar ended Cole's no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the sixth. Villar later scored on Cole's wild pitch.
Jonathan Loaisiga relieved Cole and pitched a scoreless eighth in his first appearance since recovering from an undisclosed illness. Nick Nelson allowed Joe Panik's solo homer in the ninth before finishing off the five-hitter.