TORONTO — Anthony Rizzo is willing to take one for the team. Or, the Yankees first baseman will take one for himself actually. Rizzo, who has been hit more times than any other batter in the majors since he arrived in the big leagues, sparked the Yankees big fifth inning by getting plunked. He ended the rally with his sixth career grand slam as the Bomber beat up the Blue Jays 12-3 at the Rogers Centre Friday night.
“Just the way I take the pitches and see ‘em is just different when I get hit,” Rizzo said. “I’ve said the last few weeks I just need to get hit. I went in a big slump of not getting hit for like two or three weeks and just being inside joking here but just the way I take pitches is different I guess.”
Whatever it is, the Yankees offense powered them to their eighth-straight win and their 15th out of their last 16 games. The Yankees (48-16) maintained the best record in baseball and continued to build their lead in the American League East. With the win, the Bombers hold a 12-game lead over the Blue Jays (37-27) and 13 over the Rays, whom they just swept. The Yankees improved to 23-20 against AL East opponents and have the best record in baseball against their own division.
“I know what it is, so I guess I do look at it, but yit’s not something that you want to get too caught up in here in the middle of June,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. You just want to keep stacking up as many victories as you can to continue to make sure you guys are in a good place to go perform the way they’re getting it done.”
The Yankees are rolling to a historic start. It’s just the fourth time in franchise history the Yankees have won 48 of their first 64 games and is the fourth best start through 64 games by a major league team since 1901.
It was the 11th time this season they have hit four or more homers in a game. They had 10 all of last season, according to YES. DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton and Rizzo each homered in the eight-run fifth inning. Joey Gallo had a two-run shot in the ninth. LeMahieu had three hits and Gleyber Torres had two doubles.
Rizzo, who hit the walk-off home run on Thursday night, capped off the Yankees’ dizzying fifth inning with his sixth career grand slam. The 435-foot shot was his 17th home run of the season and his sixth in the last 13 games. He drove in four Friday night for 47 homers his season and 18 RBI in his last 13 games.
He also has been hit 10 times this season and 188 since he arrived in the big leagues in 211. Rizzo said that it really “locks” him in at the plate.
Trent Thornton hit Rizzo to lead off the fifth and then gave up a two-run homer to Stanton, his 14th of the season. LeMahieu followed Stanton’s 350-foot, opposite field shot with his sixth home run of the season. LeMahieu went deep to center field 450 feet. Torres followed with a double and scored on Gallo’s double. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa singled and Rizzo smashed the game open with his grand slam.
Jordan Montgomery allowed two earned runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out five over six innings of work. He gave up an RBI-single to Gabriel Moreno in the second and a solo home run to Alejandro Kirk in the sixth.
Manny Banuelos gave up an RBI “single,” to Moreno in the seventh, on a play where Kiner-Falefa’s throw went flying under Rizzo’s glove. Miguel Castro and Lucas Luetge took it the last 1.2 innings.
“I think we’ve got a lot of talented guys playing really good baseball right now,” Montgomery said. “So we’re trying to stay hot. Just keep playing good baseball.”