TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson continued his recent hot streak with a pair of two-run homers, and J.A. Happ pitched well into the sixth inning as the Blue Jays defeated the Yankees, 4-2, in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday evening at Rogers Centre. Donaldson notched the 12th multi-homer game
TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson continued his recent hot streak with a pair of two-run homers, and J.A. Happ pitched well into the sixth inning as the Blue Jays defeated the Yankees, 4-2, in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday evening at Rogers Centre.
Donaldson notched the 12th multi-homer game of his career by launching his 14th and 15th long balls of the year in his first two at-bats against veteran Carsten Sabathia, who lasted just three innings before leaving due to right knee discomfort. Sabathia will be examined in New York on Wednesday and could miss his next start.
Thanks in large part to Donaldson, the Yankees now sit four games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East chase. The former MVP has been swinging the bat well of late, belting six home runs and compiling a .297 average with 11 RBIs over his last 10 games.
"Honestly, it's not missing pitches that I'm getting to hit," Donaldson said. "I felt like over the last month or so, mistakes that I'm getting during at-bats aren't happening as much, so I have capitalized on pitches that are mistakes when I do get the opportunity. In the last week to 10 days I feel like I've been able to do that for the most part."
Happ limited New York to Garrett Cooper's second-inning RBI single over 5 2/3 frames, permitting four hits while walking four and striking out five. Happ improved to 6-0 with a 2.23 ERA in his last 10 starts against the Yankees, who were limited to two runs or fewer for the fifth time in their last six games.
"We just never got the hits when we needed them tonight, and that was the difference," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Bryan Mitchell saved the Yankees' bullpen with four-plus scoreless innings of relief, while Roberto Osuna capped the Blue Jays' own strong relief effort with his 29th save. Toronto has won eight of its last 12 home games, but is just 12-12 since the All-Star break.
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Rain bringer: Donaldson's second homer was a 111.4-mph rocket that sizzled into the second deck in left field, marking his hardest-hit homer since last April, and his hardest-hit extra-base hit of 2017, as projected by Statcast™. It also spelled an early exit for Sabathia, who could not slip a 79.1-mph slider past the slugger, two innings after Donaldson pounced on an 81.6-mph changeup for his first homer of the evening.
"I know I definitely have the capability to have games like this," Donaldson said. "The fact of the matter is you have to go out there and do it. Tonight was nice, but the great thing about baseball is that you have to come back here and do it tomorrow."
Leone's den: A pair of one-out walks placed Happ in trouble in the sixth inning, and after the lefty got Didi Gregorius to fly out, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons opted to call upon right-hander Dominic Leone. Todd Frazier greeted the 25-year-old by legging out a replay-reviewed infield single to shortstop, with the on-field call overturned to load the bases, but Leone recovered to get Cooper to fly out to right field. Danny Barnes, Dennis Tepera and Osuna then closed out the final three innings, allowing just one run.
"When you've got your closer, your setup guy, when they get into the game you sit back and watch, man," Gibbons said. "That's their job. They're not going to be perfect. You can't be perfect in this game. No doubt, Osuna has been in a little bit of a rut, so that was a big one for him." More >
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When Happ struck out Clint Frazier in the first inning, it marked his 500th strikeout in a Blue Jays uniform. Happ is the 19th pitcher in franchise history to reach that plateau.
Girardi won his challenge in the top of the eighth inning. With a runner on and nobody out, Chase Headley was batting with a 2-2 count. Tepera threw a slider low and inside that was called ball three by home-plate umpire Chris Conroy. Headley claimed the ball hit his back foot; upon review, the call on the field was overturned and Headley was awarded first base. New York went on to load the bases but had to settle for one run on a Cooper sacrifice fly.
Yankees: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA) will try to defeat the Blue Jays for the third time this season when he starts the middle game of a three-game set on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Tanaka has held Toronto to five runs and 13 hits in 13 1/3 innings this year.
Blue Jays: Triple-A Buffalo right-hander Nick Tepesch will step in to make Wednesday's start after Cesar Valdez was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday afternoon with a right shoulder impingement. Tepesch was purchased late last month from the Twins and will make his Blue Jays debut.
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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.