For a few hours Thursday afternoon, Yankee Stadium sounded like the Rogers Centre — or TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., or Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
The Blue Jays have been vagabonds since 2020 due to the pandemic, but they made themselves right at home in Game 1 of a doubleheader in The Bronx.
By the end of the night, though, the Yankees had reclaimed their stake with a much livelier offensive performance.
After being silenced in Game 1 by Alek Manoah in his MLB debut, the Yankees returned a punch in the nightcap with tape-measure homers from Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez lifting them to a 5-3 win and a split of the doubleheader.
The early game featured a small crowd that consisted of a rowdy friends-and-family cheering section for Manoah. The 23-year-old gave them plenty to be loud about, striking out seven over six shutout innings in the Blue Jays’ 2-0 win.
“In the first game, we kind of lacked some energy, we lacked that aggression,” Judge said. “When we’re aggressive and attacking the zone, we’re unbeatable. Kind of had to flip our mindset a little bit, kind of have a pep talk and get back out there.”
Despite the doubleheader split, the Yankees (29-21) lost the series — their first since being swept by the Rays on April 16-18. In between, they had won eight series and tied two more, which had vaulted them up the standings in the AL East.
However, the Blue Jays (25-24) have now beaten the Yankees in all three of their series this season, holding a 6-3 record against them.
“They’re going to be a tough opponent going down the stretch,” Judge said. “We don’t want to lose these series, especially to guys in our division. That makes it tough. But the more we see them, the more opportunities we’ll have, I think we’ll have better results down the stretch.”
After not even reaching second base in Game 1, the Yankees quickly broke the goose egg in Game 2. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single and came around to score on an RBI double from Gio Urshela, though Judge was thrown out behind him trying to double the lead.
Jordan Montgomery ran into trouble in the top of the third when he walked No. 9 hitter Danny Jansen and Marcus Semien with two outs. It came back to hurt him when Bo Bichette crushed his second home run of the day to put the Blue Jays up 3-1.
Then the Yankees used two big thumps over the next two innings to reclaim their lead.
Judge got the green light on a 3-0 count and crushed a two-run home run 440 feet to tie it in the bottom of the third. Gary Sanchez one-upped him with a 444-foot solo shot in the fourth to put the Yankees ahead 4-3.
“I thought [Sanchez] looked great all night,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The homer gives us the lead on a huge swing, but looking at the entire at-bat, it was a really good at-bat. … Obviously we needed it tonight.”
Judge added a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to pad the Yankees’ lead and knock Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray out of the game.
It was the Blue Jays who won via the long ball in Game 1. Back-to-back homers from Semien and Bichette off Domingo German were enough to sink the Yankees as Manoah handled the rest.
Miguel Andujar mustered the only two hits off Manoah, both singles, as the Yankees were shut out for the second time this season.
“You gotta tip your cap,” Boone said after Game 1. “[Manoah] pitched well and beat us today. We gotta pick ourselves up here and find a way to punch through.”
Judge and Sanchez answered the call, delivering the right hooks to salvage the split.
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