TORONTO -- On the afternoon that Giancarlo Stanton was officially introduced as a member of his new organization, the reigning National League MVP memorably quipped that the Yankees' wrecking-crew lineup would invite observers to "feel sorry for the baseballs."It took all of two pitches for Stanton to make good on
TORONTO -- On the afternoon that Giancarlo Stanton was officially introduced as a member of his new organization, the reigning National League MVP memorably quipped that the Yankees' wrecking-crew lineup would invite observers to "feel sorry for the baseballs."
It took all of two pitches for Stanton to make good on that promise. Serving as the designated hitter in his American League debut Thursday, Stanton homered twice, scoring three runs and driving in four as the Yankees celebrated a 6-1 Opening Day victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
• Stanton homers twice in Yankees debut
"The anticipation of it was big for me," said Stanton, who cracked a two-run shot in the first inning and a solo blast in the ninth. "I was able to settle it down and understand that it's just a game. It's a big-time Opening Day, my first one as a Yankee, but I was able to calm it down."
Entrusted with his first career Opening Day start following a third-place finish in last year's AL Cy Young Award race, right-hander Luis Severino cruised through 5 2/3 innings to help new manager Aaron Boone to his first career victory. Severino held the Jays to a fourth-inning Curtis Granderson single, striking out seven and walking three.
"I was very calm. There wasn't that much adrenaline," Severino said. "I was thinking it was going to be like a playoff game. It wasn't. I was calm and trying to hit the glove."
Severino tossed 60 of 91 pitches for strikes, snapping the longest Opening Day losing streak in franchise history. New York had not won a season opener since 2011, and its last road victory in an opener came in 2006.
Left-hander J.A. Happ took the loss for Toronto. He allowed a pair of runs in the first inning on the homer by Stanton and another run crossed the plate after Happ departed in the fifth. The veteran starter was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out five in the first Opening Day start of his career.
"It's a tough lineup," Happ said. "I don't know what else I can say other than that. You can't really [pitch around it] because the players later in the lineup are good, too. You're doing whatever you can in that moment to get the guys out, and whether that takes eight pitches or two, you're doing it."
Kevin Pillar ended New York's shutout bid in the eighth, homering off Dellin Betances.
"He ambushed [the] first pitch," Betances said. "I was trying to groove one in there and I didn't think he would swing. But the good thing is I was able to kind of slow myself down after that, whereas last year I'd try to speed things up and try to do a little more."
Albertin Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for the Yankees as Toronto finished the day 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left four men on base.
"It was a lot of fun," Boone said. "I'm just excited to see Sevy get off to a good start. I thought our at-bat quality throughout the game was really strong, and obviously Giancarlo had a special day to start things off. A lot of good things out there. The bullpen was strong. It's definitely fun to do it for real and get off on a good note."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The debut: This spring, Reggie Jackson offered Stanton some simple advice on how to succeed in New York: "Play good." The slugger made a positive first impression for his new fan base, taking the first pitch he saw for a called strike before mashing an opposite-field two-run homer to right. At 117.3 mph, it was the hardest opposite-field home run recorded by any player in any Major League ballpark since Statcast™ was created in 2015.
"It's an interesting feeling; similar to my first [homer] ever," Stanton said. "I've only played here once. I obviously haven't played as a Yankee. It's my first Opening Day. Everything felt new."
The daily double: A two-out Aaron Judge walk in the fifth chased Happ after 96 pitches. Right-hander John Axford had a rough Blue Jays debut, serving up an RBI double to Stanton. Gary Sanchez followed with an RBI double of his own as New York opened up a 4-0 lead. Seven of the Yankees' 11 hits went for extra bases, including a seventh-inning Brett Gardner homer.
"I'm really pleased," Judge said. "Just consistently getting guys on base and making things happen. There's just no break in the lineup, that's the great thing about it. It's fun to be a part of something like this."
"They're going to be tough. They're going to hit their share of home runs and you just have to hope there's nobody on base when they do." -- Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Stanton became the 19th Yankee since 1961 to homer in his first at-bat for the team, and he was the first to do so since Christopher Austin and Judge both did it by hitting back-to-back home runs on Aug. 13, 2016. Stanton is the first Yankee to homer in his first at-bat for the team on Opening Day since Granderson on April 4, 2010.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Josh Donaldson's wonky right shoulder nearly cost the Blue Jays a run in the top of the sixth. With a runner on second and two outs, Donaldson fielded a grounder off the bat of Austin and made a weak throw to first, which almost pulled Justin Smoak off the bag. Austin was called out, but Boone asked for a replay review. The umpires determined the call would stand. The ruling was a key one because Neil Walker would have scored all the way from second on the play, but instead the inning came to an end.
Yankees:Masahiro Tanaka will start the second game of the season when he faces the Blue Jays on Friday evening at 7:07 p.m. ET. Tanaka is 9-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 15 career starts against Toronto, and 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in six starts at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays will counter with righty Aaron Sanchez. The game is an MLB Network Showcase, with Bob Costas, Jim Kaat and Tom Verducci on the call.
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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.