Blue Jays show they can be Bronx Bombers, slugging three homers in win –

NEW YORK – Once again in full control of their post-season aspirations after a whiplash-inducing week of standings surfing, the Toronto Blue Jays are intent on a smoother ride through the back-half of September than they had on the front end.

“Crazy league, crazy division,” said manager John Schneider. “Hopefully it’s nothing as drastic as what the last couple of weeks were, hopefully we can play consistent games and score some runs. We’ve got to worry about two more teams, we play them twice each, teams we’re familiar with and hopefully nothing as crazy as the last week.”

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Minus Yusei Kikuchi exiting the sixth inning with a left upper trap muscle cramp, the Blue Jays will gladly take 11 more outings like the one they delivered Tuesday, when they rode homers from George Springer, Bo Bichette and Alejandro Kirk plus five strong innings from their lefty in a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees.

Springer opened the scoring with the 57th leadoff homer of his career, Cavan Biggio – moved up to the cleanup spot – dunked a go-ahead single into left-centre in the fourth, Bichette opened some breathing room with a two-run drive in the fifth and Kirk padded the margins with another two-run shot in the ninth.

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Kikuchi cramped during a leadoff walk to DJ LeMahieu in the sixth but was in total control after allowing Gleyber Torres’ run-scoring double in the first, allowing just four hits and the walk while striking out seven. There was no immediate word on his status, a pivotal question with no clear No. 6 for the rotation at triple-A Buffalo.

Otherwise, it was clean, drama-free night for the Blue Jays (84-67), who will remain at least one games ahead of both the Texas Rangers (82-68), hosting Boston, and the Seattle Mariners (82-68), at Oakland.

The Blue Jays finish out their season with five more games against the Yankees, two more in the Bronx before three at Rogers Centre next week, along with two series, home and away, versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Each win pushes the math more and more in their favour.

The clash at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 38,545 was the first between the clubs since a four-game set in Toronto May 15-18, when TV broadcast cameras captured Aaron Judge glancing over at first-base coach Travis Chapman before hitting a home run off reliever Jay Jackson.

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That triggered some angry back-and-forth between the rival coaching staffs and provided a tense backdrop for the four games, of which the Yankees won three. The teams’ seasons have taken different routes since, the Blue Jays remaining in contention all season while the Yankees, decimated by injuries and lacking the depth to overcome them, have faded into a battle to avoid the AL East basement with the Boston Red Sox.

Still, they’re 76-75 after winning six of eight before Tuesday and there’s always an element of gamesmanship between the sides, even if both Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Schneider played it down beforehand.

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“Not much, to be honest with you,” said Schneider. “Different time of the year, for sure and kind of what had happened has happened. You prepare to try to beat them on the field, that’s it.”

The Blue Jays began preparing for other possibilities Tuesday, as well, with Brandon Belt, sidelined by lumbar spine muscle spasms, beginning a hitting progression and catcher Jamie Ritchie added to the taxi squad so he could get up to speed with the club’s pitchers, just in case.

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