The Yankees, who are starting to find their groove again after getting off to a difficult start this month, rattled off seven home runs in their rout of Toronto Wednesday night with three coming courtesy of Kyle Higashioka. Wait … what?!
That’s right. Higashioka, a scarcely used backup who entered Wednesday with just seven dingers on his MLB resume, matched his home run total from last season in a single night. The right-handed slugger feasted off Jays pitching, swatting a trio of majestic blasts that spanned a combined 1,211 feet in Wednesday’s 13-2 onslaught.
You know the Yankees, winners of seven straight, are cooking when their third-string catcher is launching balls into the stratosphere. The red-hot Bombers have lit up the Jays for 33 runs the past two games, leaving the yard an incredible 13 times in that span. The three-headed monster of Higashioka, Luke Voit (MLB’s current home-run leader with 19) and DJ LeMahieu has been responsible for nine of the 13 with six coming Wednesday night.
Most remarkable about Higashioka’s hat trick, which represented the second multi-homer performance of the 30-year-old’s brief but eventful big-league career, is that he drove the ball to all fields, distributing round-trippers to left, right and straightaway center. Not a bad day at the office for Higashioka, whose three hits Wednesday were as many as he had in his previous six games combined.
Wednesday also marked the return of Aaron Judge, who hadn’t seen the field since August due to a nagging calf injury. The 6’7” goliath went hitless in his four trips to the plate with three of those resulting in punch-outs, though at least he made it through the night unscathed, which is more than Judge could say about his last appearance (his return from the injured list August 26 lasted all of five innings). Gerrit Cole, who didn’t have to worry about run support Wednesday, scattered three hits and a run over seven dominant frames for his sixth victory in pinstripes. That pushed Cole’s career win total to triple digits.
Now trailing division-leading Tampa Bay by just three games in the American League East, the surging Yankees will go for the series sweep with Masahiro Tanaka opposing Jays veteran Chase Anderson in a battle of right-handed hurlers Thursday in the Bronx.