TORONTO — A day off and an international trip — short as it may have been — did nothing to cool down the Yankees.
Or Giancarlo Stanton, for that matter.
Taking yet another step toward securing not only one of the two wild-card spots but also home-field advantage for that Oct. 5 game, the Yankees won their seventh game in a row on Tuesday night, beating the Blue Jays, 7-2, in front of 28,679 at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees also got some surprising but welcome help from the lowly Orioles, who beat the Red Sox, 4-2. The Yankees (90-67) lead the Red Sox (88-69) by two games, the Mariners (88-70) by 2 1/2 and the Blue Jays (87-70) by three. With five games remaining, their magic number to clinch a wild-card spot is three and to clinch the first wild card is four.
"Obviously, coming off a big, emotional series in Boston, having the off day was helpful," Aaron Boone said. "I thought we came in really purposeful today. Just a lot of people doing a lot of good things."
It was tight until the seventh when Stanton golfed Trevor Richards' low, inside changeup — the pitch was below the strike zone — into the second deck in left for a three-run homer. Stanton’s 35th home run, his 15th in his last 31 games, made it 6-2 and sucked much of the air out of a crowd that had been buzzing since first pitch (the Canadian government allowed the Rogers Centre capacity to be expanded from 15,000 to roughly 30,000 for the Blue Jays' final homestand, which began Tuesday).
"Scorching hot," Boone said in describing Stanton, who went 2-for-5 and is 9-for-17 with four homers and 13 RBIs in his last four games. He has gone 60-for-186 (.323) with 19 homers and 50 RBIs in his last 49 games and has 96 RBIs.
The Yankees, who outhit the Blue Jays 11-3, also got Aaron Judge’s 37th homer, a drive to rightfield off Hyun Jin Ryu in the third that tied it at 1. Judge’s sacrifice fly in the fifth, his 94th RBI, gave the Yankees the lead for good at 3-2, and Gio Urshela’s homer in the ninth made it 7-2.
Since the beginning of August, Judge is hitting .299 with 16 homers and 46 RBIs in 54 games.
"We’re back to wearing the pitcher down," Stanton said. "At any moment, 1-9 [in the lineup] can come up big. As long as we’re staying in our zones and having good at-bats, he’s [the opposing pitcher] going to make a mistake."
Ryu, making his first start since going to the injured list with neck stiffness, made his share of mistakes as his second-half slide continued. The lefthander, who came in 5-4 with a 5.61 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break, allowed three runs, six hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings.
The Yankees overcame the loss of Jameson Taillon, who left the game after 2 1/3 innings after aggravating the tendon tear in his right ankle that had him on the injured list since Sept. 7.
"We’ll see," Boone said of Taillon, who summoned Boone after striking out Danny Jansen looking to start the third with the score tied at 1. "He waved us out so I figured it had something to do with the injury and I could tell right away that he had reaggravated it, so it was a quick decision for me to get him out of there."
A parade of effective relievers — Michael King, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Luis Severino and Wandy Peralta — allowed a combined one run and two hits the rest of the way.
"When every single one of our names gets called, we have to be ready to go," King said.
King allowed a leadoff single to Bo Bichette in the fourth and he scored on Corey Dickerson’s two-out RBI double to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.
After Urshela singled with one out in the fifth and DJ LeMahieu walked, Anthony Rizzo sliced an 0-and-2 cutter that was well outside the strike zone into leftfield for a single that tied it at 2-2. Dickerson had a play on Urshela at the plate, but his throw hit him in the back and skittered away. Sidearming righty Adam Cimber then allowed Judge’s sacrifice fly.
"I just feel like when the game’s on the line, when the season’s on the line, when it’s a big moment, this team’s going to show up," Judge said. "It’s go time."