TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the hero the Blue Jays needed on Wednesday night.
The 20-year-old rookie phenom -- the No. 1 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline -- hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to help lift the home team to an 11-7 win over the Yankees at Rogers Centre, giving Toronto back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a month.
“It’s awesome,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of the comeback win. “Not only that, you beat one of the best teams in baseball and one of the best bullpens in baseball. So to come back like that, this is going to help us at least for the next two weeks. Whatever happens, we can lose games, but we know we can compete with the best teams in baseball.”
Guerrero also had the decisive RBI in Tuesday’s nights 4-3 victory over the American League East leaders when he drove in a run with a fifth-inning single. He has hits in six straight games, a new personal best, and is 9-for-23 with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs over that span.
“That’s the feeling you have any time he goes [to the plate] with the game on the line,” Montoyo said. “You always feel like he’s got a chance to do something like that. Right before that, Danny Jansen had an outstanding at-bat and [Lourdes] Gurriel Jr. [walked] to get on base to give Vladdy the chance to do that.”
Guerrero’s homer came on a tough sinker from two-time All-Star reliever Zack Britton, a pitch that he launched 109.9 mph off the bat, per Statcast, and into the stands.
“That’s why Vladdy’s special,” Montoyo said. “Not many guys can do that against Britton. I’ve seen Britton deal so many years with that bowling ball sinking action that he’s got, and it was great to see our guys make a comeback against a guy like that.”
Toronto’s designated hitter helped his team battle back after it watched an early three-run lead turn into a three-run deficit. Randal Grichuk opened the scoring for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the first with his second home run in as many nights and 11th of the season, a two-out, two-run shot. He added his second long ball in the eighth for his seventh career multihomer game.
The Blue Jays plated one in the second inning and another in the fifth. Then Teoscar Hernández brought Toronto to within one run with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh -- his second double of the night in his return from Triple-A Buffalo -- before Guerrero changed the game with his 434-foot homer. Brandon Drury added a home run of his own in the eighth, going back-to-back with Grichuk, to pad the lead.
Trent Thornton got the start for the Blue Jays and held the Yankees hitless for 3 2/3 innings before allowing a solo home run to Gary Sanchez. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up three more runs in the fifth before Toronto turned things over to the bullpen. Thornton completed five innings, allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
“It started with Trent,” Montoyo said. “He was dealing, then he struggled, but at the end he made the big pitches to keep us in the game. [Five straight batters reached] and we were thinking about taking him out, and I said, ‘No, this is a really good lesson for him. Let’s see what he can do.’ And then he came back and struck out the last guy and kept us in the game.”
Added Thornton: “I left a couple balls out over the plate. I felt good tonight for the most part, obviously a little rough fifth inning, but that was a great team win. We swung the bats really well, played good defense. That was a lot of fun to watch … that win yesterday and then today, hopefully we can carry this momentum forward and just keep on winning games.”
With the win, the Blue Jays have claimed their first series since sweeping the A’s at home from April 26-28. The team also won consecutive games for the first time since that set against Oakland.
“We’ve had ups and downs, but as a group we always stay together,” Guerrero said. “We try to do the best we can, and thank God we got these two wins.”