Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drives in six runs to lift Blue Jays past Yankees 9-3

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drives in six runs to lift Blue Jays past Yankees 9-3
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drives in six runs to lift Blue Jays past Yankees 9-3

TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Doesn’t see himself as the leader of the Toronto Blue Jays club, but his recent good run is certainly an example for him.

TORONTO – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doesn’t see himself as the leader of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, but his recent success certainly sets a good example.

Guerrero hit a two-run homer and drove in four more runs with a pair of doubles as Toronto came back with a 9-3 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday. Guerrero has driven in 19 runs on 14 hits over the past six games, but has been reluctant to call himself the Blue Jays’ catalyst.

“I don’t see myself as the leader of the team, I just take it personally,” Guerrero said through interpreter Hector Lebron. “Every day I try to do something good and find a way to help my team win some games.

“But it comes from me, not because I think I’m a leader.”

Alejandro Kirk batted in two runs with a double and a single as Toronto (38-44) shook off a 16-5 rout from the previous night. Isiah Kiner-Falefa went 4-for-5 and scored three runs, adding an RBI.

“We trust each other every day, no matter the situation,” Guerrero said.

Chris Bassitt (7-6) limited the Yankees to one unearned run on six hits and two walks, striking out eight in six innings. It was an impressive performance after he took a sharp comebacker off his forearm from Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in the first inning.

“I knew right away I could stay in the game,” said Bassitt, who was x-rayed between the first and second innings. “I just wasn’t so sure about the inning after that and the inning after that.

Bassitt donned a compression sleeve after the X-rays and worked with team trainers between each inning to manage any inflammation or pain.

“Of course, these things get a little bit trickier,” he said. “We’ve just done enough to get by.”

Brendon Little, Zach Pop of Brampton, Ontario, and Jose Cuas, who made his Blue Jays debut, came on as replacements.

Austin Wells had a two-run homer in the ninth for New York (53-32), while Judge hit an RBI single in the fifth.

Nestor Cortes (4-7) lasted 4 1/3 innings, gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk, and struck out five. Jake Cousins, Phil Bickford, Caleb Ferguson and Clay Holmes came out of the Yankees’ bullpen.

Kiner-Falefa singled to reach base with one out in the first. In the next at bat, Guerrero hit a Cortes change-up 403 feet for his 13th home run of the season.

Kirk scored another run in the fourth when he doubled down the first base line. That was enough to power Justin Turner from second for a 3-0 lead in Toronto. It was the lightweight Kirk’s 17th RBI of the season and lifted his batting average above .200.

Rechter answered for the Yankees in the fifth, scoring Volpe from third. Volpe had reached on a throwing error by Blue Jays third baseman Ernie Clement.

A five-run rally in the sixth helped Toronto pull well ahead of the visitors.

Kirk drove in another run when his single gave George Springer time to trot home. Kiner-Falefa kept the runs coming four batters later with a two-out single that scored pinch-hitter Daulton Varsho for a 5-1 Blue Jays lead.

Guerrero was next, doubling to send home Kirk, Bo Bichette and Kiner-Falefa to the delight of the 37,448 packed into Rogers Centre. It was the 800th hit of Guerrero’s career. He is the eighth-fastest player in Blue Jays history to reach the milestone, doing so in 742 games.

“It was a normal hit for me, to be honest,” Guerrero said. “I saw it as a 1-1 game, because you never know.

“Baseball is like that, especially these guys. They could come back at any time.”

Kiner-Falefa and Guerrero combined for another Toronto run in the eighth. Kiner-Falefa was on first on a two-out hit when Guerrero doubled again and easily slid home for a 9-1 Blue Jays lead.

Wells ended that in the ninth, hitting a Cuas sweeper deep into right field. Gleyber Torres also scored his third home run of the year.

ON DECK – A potential pitchers’ duel concludes the four-game series Sunday when Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (6-6) takes on New York’s Gerritt Cole (0-1).

It will be Cole’s second start of the season after winning the American League Cy Young Award as the league’s best pitcher in 2023.

Gausman finished third in last year’s Cy Young voting.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press