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CC cruises as Sanchez, Hicks bruise Jays

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays might be getting healthier but the Yankees showed why they are currently the best team in the American League East with a convincing 12-2 victory on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.

New York scored early and often against the surging Blue Jays, who entered this game having won eight of their last nine. Gary Sanchez led the way with a pair of home runs, Aaron Hicks went 4-for-5 with six RBIs, and every member of the starting lineup reached base at least once.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays might be getting healthier but the Yankees showed why they are currently the best team in the American League East with a convincing 12-2 victory on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.

New York scored early and often against the surging Blue Jays, who entered this game having won eight of their last nine. Gary Sanchez led the way with a pair of home runs, Aaron Hicks went 4-for-5 with six RBIs, and every member of the starting lineup reached base at least once.

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Video: NYY@TOR: Sanchez crushes two homers vs. the Blue Jays

"Especially against a good offensive team like that, to have a little cushion, you just go out and relax," said left-hander CC Sabathia, who was staked to an early 5-0 lead and cruised through most of his outing. "You try to pound the strike zone and get some early outs to get them back in the dugout swinging the bat."

Wielding a sharp cutter, sinker and slider, Sabathia didn't allow a run until the seventh, when Kendrys Morales hit a solo shot to right-center field for his 11th home run of the season. Sabathia won his fourth consecutive start, scattering five hits while striking out seven and not walking a batter.

Video: NYY@TOR: Morales belts a solo homer to right-center

The Yankees did most of their damage off right-hander Marco Estrada, who could not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed seven runs on nine hits and a pair of walks while striking out four. The seven earned runs were the most Estrada has allowed since joining the Blue Jays in 2015 and his highest total since June 20, 2014, at Colorado.

"He's the kind of guy that, if he settles in, he can be really tough," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We never really let him settle in tonight."

There were not a lot of bright spots in this game for the Blue Jays, who were coming off a three-game sweep of the Reds. Morales and Justin Smoak each had a pair of hits but Josh Donaldson was the only other Toronto player to reach base vs. Sabathia. Ezequiel Carrera added a solo homer in the eighth inning. With the win, New York increased its lead over last-place Toronto to 6 1/2 games.

"Obviously it was a tough outing," Estrada said. "I got hit around a bunch. I didn't make any good pitches today. It just wasn't there. But I'm more upset about having the bullpen to pick up all of those innings. It's my job to go deep into games regardless of how many runs I give up."

Video: NYY@TOR: Hicks goes 4-for-5 with six RBIs

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Clearing the bases: The Yankees didn't waste a lot of time before getting to Estrada. Brett Gardner led off the game with a double and Aaron Judge later followed with an RBI single. The big blow came four batters after that when Hicks stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Hicks worked the count to 1-1 before doubling to the gap in right-center field. All three runners came around to score as Estrada saw his struggles in the first inning continue with an ERA that now sits at 7.50 for that frame.

"I was able to get a big hit for us," Hicks said. "I had a good approach against that guy. I was looking for a changeup right there in that situation. I got it and made sure I didn't miss it." More >>

Video: NYY@TOR: Hicks discusses his monster performance

Doubling up: Sanchez's first homer of the game was a solo shot in the second inning and he later added a two-run shot in the fourth. The home runs had exit velocities of 113.2 mph and 111.6, which are the two hardest-hit balls off an Estrada changeup since the start of the Statcast™ era. It was the fourth multi-homer game of Sanchez's career and the second one essentially chased Estrada from the game and gave New York a 7-0 lead. More >>

"Sanchez hit two today off of me, and it's basically what he did last time at their place," Estrada said. "I missed two changeups and he crushed those. I just have to stop missing changeups to him because he can hit them, obviously. When they're down, I get swings and misses, when they're up like that, they get hit a long way."

Video: NYY@TOR: Sanchez hammers two long home runs

QUOTABLE
"It was just one of those nights. They battled and they burned him with a couple of big hits, a couple of big homers." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on Estrada

Video: NYY@TOR: Gibbons on Estrada's start, loss to Yankees

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gardner singled in the fourth inning for his 1,000th career hit. He is the 41st player to tally at least 1,000 hits in a Yankees uniform, equaling Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon, who did so over seven seasons from 1938-46.

Video: NYY@TOR: Gardner on recording his 1,000th career hit

Estrada accidentally tosses aside Gardner's 1K hit

The Blue Jays are 9-17 against the AL East this season and 3-8 when facing a left-handed starter.

Video: NYY@TOR: Sabathia moves to fourth on lefty K list

REPLAY REVIEW
Gibbons used his challenge in the top of the seventh inning. Hicks doubled to right field and Didi Gregorius scored all the way from first base on a close play at the plate. Toronto wanted to have a closer look but after a brief review, it was ruled that the call on the field stands. Gregorius was ruled safe and New York increased its lead to 8-0.

Video: NYY@TOR: Hicks records RBI double after challenge

WHAT'S NEXT
Yankees: Right-hander Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32) will try for his fourth consecutive winning start on Friday as the Yankees play the second game of their four-game series at Rogers Centre. Pineda last started Sunday against the Athletics, permitting three runs (two earned) and three hits over six innings. The Yankees have won eight of his last nine starts.

Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35) will make his return from the disabled list when the Blue Jays face the Yankees at 7:07 p.m. ET. Liriano has been out since May 10 but is coming off a rehab appearance with Triple-A Buffalo that saw him allow three runs over 4 1/3 innings. His pitch count should be around 90 for this start.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Leonel Campos, Marco Estrada, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, CC Sabathia, Gary Sanchez