TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays capped an up-and-down homestand in style Thursday night by relying on two of their big weapons – the team ace and the reigning league MVP.
Marcus Stroman allowed three hits over eight innings and slugger Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer as Toronto defeated the New York Yankees 4-2 at Rogers Centre.
The victory brought the Blue Jays back to the .500 mark and helped ease some of the concern about their tepid start to the season. Toronto will take a 5-5 record into Boston on Friday for the opener of a seven-game road trip.
“I feel good leaving tonight,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “We salvaged a pretty good homestand from the way it started against two pretty good teams. So we feel pretty good right now.
“We saw some signs of life in a couple more bats today and then Donaldson, that’s why they call him the MVP I guess.”
A few hitters have had some early troubles but the Toronto third baseman has picked up where he left off last year. In the fifth inning, he crushed a 1-0 pitch from Nathan Eovaldi over the centre-field wall for his fifth homer of the year.
It was the second straight win for the Blue Jays, who split the six-game homestand. Toronto opened the campaign by splitting a four-game series at Tampa Bay before dropping two of three at home to the Red Sox.
“A walk, a double and then a quick three-run homer,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “That’s who they are. They hit the ball out of the ballpark and they’re dangerous.”
Donaldson, who has at least one hit in each game this season, predicted the bats will continue to progress once the team hits the road.
“I don’t think that we’ve quite clicked offensively the way that we’re going to probably in the next week or so,” he said. “Hopefully tomorrow.”
Stroman (2-0) rolled through the first three innings but had some trouble in the fourth.
A hit batsman and back-to-back singles loaded the bases. New York pushed a run across when Carlos Beltran beat out a potential double-play ball, allowing Alex Rodriguez to cross.
Mark Teixeira then scampered home on a wild pitch. Stroman was clearly frustrated but settled down after that, retiring the last 11 batters he faced and recording a total of 17 ground-ball outs.
“My mindset is always to be aggressive,” he said. “I pitch in the zone and everyone knows that. I do everything in my power just to make quality pitches.
“I feel like when I’m making quality pitches, I’m going to be able to keep the ball on the ground.”
Edwin Encarnacion doubled in the fourth inning for his first extra-base hit of the year. Troy Tulowitzki added an insurance run with a solo shot in the sixth for his second homer of the year.
Roberto Osuna pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his fourth save in four opportunities. Toronto outhit the Yankees 8-3.
Eovaldi (0-1) lasted 6 2/3 innings for New York (4-4), allowing seven hits, two walks and four earned runs. He had eight strikeouts.
Announced attendance was 36,238 and the game took two hours 22 minutes to play.
Notes: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista walked twice. He has reached base in every game this season. … Brian McCann returned to the lineup for New York after missing Wednesday’s game due to a sore toe. He wore a special protective shield on his left shoe as protection. … Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (1-1, 8.10 earned-run average) is scheduled to start Friday against fellow right-hander Rick Porcello (1-0, 6.00). … The Yankees will return to New York for a nine-game homestand starting Friday against the Seattle Mariners.