Stanton homers twice in debut, Yankees beat Blue Jays 6-1
TORONTO — Stanton began his Yankees career in style , hitting the hardest-hit opposite-field home run since Major League Baseball began tracking exit velocity in 2015, adding an RBI double and a second homer into the center-field party deck in the ninth. Stanton’s four RBIs led the Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 Thursday and gave Aaron Boone in a win in his first game as a professional manager.
“My biggest challenge, I told myself, was going to be to be calm,” Stanton said. “You want to get the first one out of the way and then you can relax.”
Stanton was given the silent treatment by the Yankees , except for head athletic trainer Steven Donohue, when he returned to the dugout after the second home run. So Stanton high-fived imaginary hands.
“I had to get it late,” he said. “But I got some air high-5s.”
Stanton became the seventh Yankee to hit multiple home runs on opening day, the first since Joe Pepitone in 1963.
“Every pitch, it just seemed like he was in a really good place,” Boone said.
Stanton took a strike from J.A. Happ (0-1) in the first inning, then hit a 426-foot, two-run drive to right measured at 117.3 mph.
“It’s an interesting feeling, man,” Stanton said. “It was similar to my first one ever.”
Stanton led the major leagues with 59 home runs last year and won the NL MVP, then was acquired from Derek Jeter’s payroll-paring Miami Marlins to join AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge on the resurgent Bronx Bombers, who fell one win shy of reaching the World Series last year. Stanton became the first player to homer in his first Yankees plate appearance since Judge two years ago.
“We’ve got it in us,” Stanton said. “Top to bottom, we’re going to be tough.”
Stanton doubled off John Axford in the fifth and hit a 434-foot home run off Tyler Clippard in the ninth.
“All day long, I thought he was winning pitches,” Boone said.
Luis Severino (1-0) pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the Yankees, who won their opener for the first time since 2011.
“The key to the game was Severino,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He shut us down pretty good.”
Brett Gardner hit a leadoff home run off Danny Barnes in the seventh. Judge singled, doubled and walked for New York, which opened the season with a road win for the first time since 2006 at Oakland.
“It’s definitely fun to do it for real and get off on a good note,” Boone said.
Boone had been a television analyst since retiring as a player after the 2009 season. New York fired Joe Girardi after the Game 7 loss to Houston in the AL Championship Series, deciding it needed a new approach.
Severino got a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild after issuing consecutive walks in the first, but escaped the jam by striking out Kendrys Morales.
Happ (0-1) allowed three runs — two earned — and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. Kevin Pillar homered on Dellin Betances’ first pitch in the eighth. Betances and Aroldis Chapman retired the final six batters in order.
The Blue Jays have lost seven straight home openers, the longest slump in franchise history. Toronto’s two hits were its low for an opener.
MESSAGE FROM MOM
“My mom sent me a lot of emojis this morning,” Boone said before the game. “A lot of hearts, prayers, the whole bit.”
ALARM OVER DONALDSON’S ARM
Gibbons said 3B Josh Donaldson is dealing with deadness in his throwing arm. Donaldson’s throws to first base were noticeably weak.
“He was definitely a little off so we may need to DH him a little bit more,” Gibbons said. “We don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s just dead.”
The Blue Jays retired the number of late pitcher Roy Halladay in a pregame tribute, and added his name to their Level of Excellence. In lieu of a first pitch, Halladay’s teenage sons Braden and Ryan, placed a ball on the mound, which was covered in a black cloth with Halladay’s 32 in white. Halladay died when his two-seater plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico last Nov. 7.
Did Gregorius used a face screaming in fear emoji for Stanton in his postgame recap and wrote “i feel bad for the balls.” Gregorius credited him with only three RBIs.
Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling’s first home run calls for Stanton were in Italian: “Giancarlo, non si puo de stoparlo!” That translates to “Giancarlo, you cannot stop it!”
GOING YARD IN OPENERS
Other Yankees to homer twice on opening day were Babe Ruth and Samuel Byrd (1932), Russ Derry (1945) and Roger Maris (1956).
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (right ankle) and OF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right oblique) were placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to March 26. … OF Clint Frazier was placed on the seven-day concussion DL, retroactive to March 26. … INF/OF Tyler Austin was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (right heel) was placed on the 60-day DL, guaranteeing he will miss at least 30 games for a seventh consecutive season. The move is retroactive to March 28. Tulowitzki sustained a season-ending ankle injury last July 28 and was not able to participate in Toronto’s exhibition schedule. … OF Anthony Alford (right hamstring) and OF Dalton Pompey (right wrist) were placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to March 26.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka is 9-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 15 starts against Toronto.
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez had an AL-best 3.00 ERA in 2016 but made just eight starts last season because of persistent blister issues. He’s 2-2 with a a 2.40 ERA in 13 career games against New York, including three starts.