TORONTO — On a day the Yankees rotation got some bad news and found itself in need of a boost, CC Sabathia provided one.
Later, Miguel Andujar did the same for the offense.
The veteran pitcher, who gave a turn-back-the-clock performance, and the rookie third baseman, who clocked his first career grand slam, were an impressive combination Tuesday night in leading the Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays in front of 29,308 at Rogers Centre.
The Yankees, who also received a three-run homer from Aaron Hicks in the eighth that provided some late breathing room, improved to 30-9 since their 9-9 start to the season.
Sabathia, taking the mound a few hours after the Yankees announced lefthander Jordan Montgomery would be lost for the season, and perhaps the next one, too, to undergo Tommy John surgery, allowed two runs and three hits, including two solo homers, over seven innings, which matched a season-high.
“That’s as good as we’ve seen him maybe,” Aaron Boone said of Sabathia. “And that’s saying something.”
Sabathia entered the night 2-1 with a 3.73 ERA, but 0-1 with a 7.85 ERA over his previous four starts. Tuesday he resembled the pitcher who started the season 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA his first six starts. The 37-year-old, pitching on an extra day’s rest, picked up his 250th career victory, including 10 postseason wins.
“The rest helped,” Sabathia said. “Just trying to get back in the dugout for these guys to score runs. This is a great offense and you know they’re going to come through at some point.”
The Blue Jays (26-34), losers of 17 of their last 23, finished with three hits.
The second came when Teoscar Hernandez broke a scoreless tie in the sixth with a one-out blast that gave him nine homers and Toronto a 1-0 lead.
But after Gary Sanchez singled to lead off the seventh against Marco Estrada, righthander Seunghwan Oh came on to face Didi Gregorius. The shortstop was hit on his left foot as he squared to bunt and Hicks worked a walk to load the bases for Andujar. The 23-year-old jumped on a first-pitch cutter and sent it in the second deck in left, his seventh homer making it 4-1.
“I’m ready for whatever situation,” Andujar said of coming up in a pressure moment. “That’s the game and I tried to do my job.”
Boone could not have been happier with the approach of Andujar, who entered the night leading all big-league rookies in average (. 299), slugging pct. (. 524) and extra-base hits (28). The numbers included hitting .354 (23-for-65) with eight doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 11 runs in his previous 17 games.
“I always want us on the hunt,” Boone said. “He had a plan what he was looking for walking up there, got it, and put a great swing on it.”
Kevin Pillar got one back in the bottom half with a homer that cut Toronto’s deficit to 4-2. Hicks’ three-run shot to right off lefty Aaron Loup with two outs in the eighth made it 7-2.
Seigler: I’m no Ohtani
Anthony Seigler, the Yankees ambidextrous first-round draft pick, recalled once playing six different positions in a game. But the 18-year-old, primarily a catcher but who has pitched and played in the infield and outfield in high school, said on a conference call with the club’s beat writers Tuesday night the Yankees see him strictly as a catcher. There is only one Shohei Ohtani, he said.
“I’m nothing like him, he’s just a rare player, he’s truly a two-way player,” Seigler said. “In the pros I’m not going to be able to do what he’s doing right now.”
Seigler, who has committed to play at the University of Florida, said “there’s no doubt” he’ll sign with the Yankees. “This is a no-brainer for me,” he added.
Exactly half of Miguel Andujar’s 58 hits have been for extra bases:
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