TORONTO — The numbers are just silly at this point.
DJ LeMahieu entered Thursday night already with absurd numbers this season with runners in scoring position and actually improved upon them.
He came up twice in such situations and delivered both times, helping the Yankees avoid a sweep by the Blue Jays in a 6-2 victory in front of 25,657 at Rogers Centre.
“He’s a machine,” Cameron Maybin said, using a nickname Gary Sanchez recently bestowed on the low-key LeMahieu.
LeMahieu, arguably the club MVP at this point of the season, went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs, which improved him to an otherworldly 26-for-53 (.491) with 31 RBIs this season with RISP.
The righthanded hitting LeMahieu, signed to a two-year $24 million free-agent deal over the winter, doubled in a run in the Yankees’ four-run second against Edwin Jackson that included a three-run homer by Aaron Hicks.
“That guy rakes,” said Hicks, whose blast made it 4-0. “I’ve said it already. He’s a true hitter. He’s a guy that hits it any location, all over the field. He’s been huge for us.”
LeMahieu shook his head with a laugh regarding Sanchez’s nickname.
“That’s his thing,” he said almost shyly. “It makes me laugh.”
Explaining the RISP numbers, LeMahieu, hitting .323 overall this season with an .851 OPS, shrugged.
“For me, it’s kind of taking the same approach as I do in all my at-bats,” he said. “I usually don’t hit for a ton of power so I need to come through in those situations to impact the game. It’s not always like that. I’m just on a good roll.”
J.A. Happ, making his first start in the building since the Blue Jays traded him to the Yankees before last year’s July 31 deadline, made it a mini-roll for him with his second straight good start.
Happ (6-3, 4.48), who spent six seasons in Toronto, allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, which matched his season-best. He struck out four and did not walk a batter, the only run coming on Eric Sogard’s leadoff homer in the sixth.
“I know a lot of the guys over there still,” Happ said. “It’s a young team but I’ve been teammates with a lot of those guys, so you kind of have those feelings stepping back onto that mound again where I did so many. So that was special.”
Chad Green pitched a scoreless eighth but allowed three straight singles in the ninth, loading the bases with none out. Aroldis Chapman came on and retired the side, with one of the inherited runners scoring in recording his 18th save in 19 chances.
An error by Vlad Guerrero Jr., whose three-run homer off Zack Britton, turned Wednesday’s game around for Toronto, opened the door for the Yankees in the second and they barreled through. Jackson retired the first two batters before Thairo Estrada, starting at short with Gleyber Torres getting the night off to rest a sore left shoulder, grounded to third. Guerrero’s throw sailed a bit and plunked Estrada on the left side of his batting helmet, causing a momentary injury delay. Maybin singled for the first of his two hits and LeMahieu did what he’s been doing with regularity with RISP. He got a hit, a double off the wall in center. He drove in another run with a single in the fourth.
With Didi Gregorius returning from the injured list on Friday, there is a numbers crunch. Estrada was optioned after the game and finding time for LeMahieu could be difficult as Torres figures to move to second. But Aaron Boone said not so fast.
“Why does DJ have to come out?” Boone said. “He’ll get his day [off] here and there, but he’s not coming out anytime soon.”