J.A. Happ, Toronto’s left-handed starter, had beaten the Yankees five times without a loss over the last two seasons, but his outing did not start well on Thursday. After left fielder Curtis Granderson dropped Gardner’s routine liner for an error, Happ recovered to strike out Judge.
That brought Stanton to the plate. He took the first pitch, a fastball on the outside edge of the plate, for a strike. Happ came back with the same pitch, but left the two-seamer over the plate. Stanton, delivering the compact swing of a pesky singles hitter with a tight end’s body, answered by driving the ball deep into the right-center field seats.
As he jogged around the bases, Stanton flashed the gold bottoms of his spikes and feigned taking a handoff from the third base coach Phil Nevin as he reached out to the slugger rounding third.
“That was cool, man,” Stanton said. “I tried to be as calm as possible coming up, and the anticipation was big for me. I was able to settle it down and understand that it’s just a game even though it’s a big-time opening day.”
When Stanton came to the plate to begin the ninth inning, it was only in search of gravy. The Yankees by then had firm control. Stanton had pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fifth when he doubled off reliever John Axford to drive home Judge, who had walked. Sanchez followed by doubling to center field, comfortably scoring Stanton.
After Gardner’s home run off Danny Barnes in the seventh, the Blue Jays put their only blemish on the Yankees bullpen when Kevin Pillar hit Dellin Betances’s first pitch over the center-field wall. “I didn’t think he was swinging,” Betances said sheepishly.
Blue Jays reliever Tyler Clippard, with the count full, tried to fool Stanton with a changeup. Stanton, almost dropping to one knee, hit the pitch into the second deck in center field. As the coaching assistant Brett Weber mimicked the swing later, Stanton said it was “almost Beltre,” referring to Adrian Beltre’s habit of falling to the ground to hit off-speed pitches.
Published at Fri, 30 Mar 2018 02:33:31 +0000