Giancarlo Stanton was a surprise addition to the Yankees roster on Tuesday, activated from the injured list and placed in the lineup as the designated hitter in the cleanup spot.
"It’s awesome to have the big G back in the lineup," Luke Voit said.
On this night, though, they didn’t need him.
Stanton went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, but the Yankees pounded the Blue Jays for 16 runs by the fourth inning en route to a 20-6 thrashing at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees hit six home runs, including two by Voit, who took sole possession of the major-league home run lead. Voit (3-for-5, five RBIs) has 18.
"Pretty awesome," Voit said. "It’s a pretty cool feeling, but, hey, there’s still 12 games left. They’re really important, so have to worry about that."
With their sixth straight victory, the Yankees hopped over Toronto and into second place in the AL East by a half-game. The second-place teams in every division are guaranteed playoff spots; the second-place team with the best record among the three second-place teams will host its entire three-game wild-card series.
When the playoffs begin on Sept. 29, whether they are home or away, the Yankees hope to have Stanton and Aaron Judge in the lineup. Judge’s return from his lingering calf injury is "imminent," manager Aaron Boone said.
Said Voit: "We’re clicking at the right time – right before playoffs start. Top to bottom tonight, pretty scary lineup, and we’re getting a really, really good player here back soon – Judge – which even makes it even scarier. A couple of weeks ago, I don’t think teams were scared of us. Now we’re back to being the Bronx Bombers. I don’t think people want to play us in the playoffs."
On Tuesday, the Yankees relied on a three-run home run by Voit and a next-pitch homer by Aaron Hicks in the second, a three-run double by DJ LeMahieu in the third and a three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the fourth to take a 16-3 lead before the game was halfway done.
Rookie Deivi Garcia (2-1) went seven innings and gave up three runs as the Yankees began a 13-games-in-13-days stretch to end the regular season.
The Yankees also welcomed back third baseman Gio Urshela from the injured list. Urshela went 3-for-4 with a walk.
But Gleyber Torres did not start for the second straight game (the Yankees were off Monday) with what Boone called "a little bit of a quad." Boone said Torres would have played if it were a playoff game.
Stanton, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a hamstring injury, will be eased back into duty, Boone said, and will not be in the lineup on Wednesday.
In the second and third innings, as the Yankees took a 12-1 lead, Stanton made three outs, including two in the second as the first and 10th batter of the inning.
Every Yankee starter except Stanton had at least one hit. Stanton did hit a vicious line drive to shortstop in his final at-bat.
Stanton grounded out to third to open the second inning and struck out to end it. In between, the Yankees scored seven runs and knocked out Toronto starter Taijuan Walker (3-3).
With the Blue Jays leading 1-0, Toronto rightfielder Derek Fisher dropped a one-out fly ball hit by Clint Frazier and misplayed the next ball – scored an RBI single by Brett Gardner – to tie the game at 1.
That could have been that, but Tyler Wade lined a tie-breaking, two-out single to right to begin the Yankees’ onslaught.
LeMahieu (4-for-6, five RBIs) had an RBI single to make it 3-1 before Voit launched a three-run home run into the left-centerfield bleachers. Voit’s 17th home run broke a tie with Mike Trout of the Angels and Nelson Cruz of the Twins for the major-league lead. Hicks lined Walker’s next pitch into the second deck in right to make it 7-1.
In the third, Toronto’s Shun Yamaguchi walked the first three batters and hit the next two for two runs. He also balked, and, later in the inning, threw a wild pitch. LeMahieu lined a three-run double down the leftfield line for the only hit of the five-run inning to make it 12-1.
The Yankees, after going down 1-2-3 in the first, batted around in each of the next three innings.
Sanchez hit a three-run homer off Stony Brook product Anthony Kay in the fourth. Voit hit a solo shot in the sixth. Frazier hit a two-run homer in the seventh. LeMahieu homered on a 48.7 mph pitch thrown by infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking in 2008.
Said Voit: "LeMahieu’s the freaking best hitter I’ve ever played with."