TORONTO — The Yankees took another step toward the postseason on Thursday night, and the middle of their lineup showed again how dangerous it can be.
They hit four homers off AL Cy Young candidate Robbie Ray in a 6-2 win over the Blue Jays, as they reduced their magic number to clinch a wild-card berth to two, thanks to Boston’s loss to the Orioles, which also dropped the Red Sox into a tie with Seattle.
The victory was sparked by Aaron Judge, who homered twice and was part of a sixth-inning eruption against the left-hander Ray.
Entering the sixth down by a run, the Yankees got a one-out solo shot from Anthony Rizzo to tie the game, 2-2.
Judge followed with his second laser home run to center, this one measured at 441 feet, to make it 3-2.
Toronto let Ray stay in the game, and he walked Giancarlo Stanton before Gleyber Torres continued his resurgence with a two-run homer to extend the lead. It was just the fourth hit by the Yankees off Ray — all homers.
So the Yankees return to The Bronx on Friday with a chance to seal their place in the postseason, with some help. The win didn’t come without a price, though, as DJ LeMahieu, who led off the sixth with a comebacker, was removed from the game before the bottom of the inning with right hip soreness — an injury that has bothered him for weeks.
Judge, who entered with 20 RBIs in his previous 18 games, opened the scoring with a 455-foot blast to dead center. It was his longest homer of the season, according to Statcast.
And Judge saved a run while in right field in the bottom of the second to keep the game tied.
Bo Bichette, who tormented the Yankees all series, led off with a single to center. He stole second and then scored on a Corey Dickerson double to right.
After Alejandro Kirk grounded out, Santiago Espinal hit a soft fly ball to shallow right that nearly fell in for an RBI single.
But Judge, playing with a dislocated left pinky — and having fractured a rib on a similar play in 2019 — dove headfirst to make the catch for the third out and keep it 1-1.
After a walk to Gary Sanchez to lead off the second, Ray retired the next 13 in a row before Rizzo took him deep in the sixth and he unraveled.
The Yankees got enough pitching, as Corey Kluber gave up two runs in 4 ²/₃ innings.
In the fifth, George Springer hit a liner that Gio Urshela couldn’t handle at short, which went for a hit. Marcus Semien followed with a grounder to short that the Yankees nearly turned for an inning-ending double play. First-base umpire Bill Miller called Semien out at first, but Toronto challenged the call and replay showed he was clearly safe.
The call extended the inning and the Blue Jays immediately took advantage, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with a run-scoring double off the top of the fence in center, inches away from a two-run homer, to give Toronto its first lead.
Kluber was replaced by Michael King to face Bichette. After a walk to Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez grounded out.
King pitched well out of the bullpen once again and the Yankees offense awoke in the sixth, as Rizzo and Judge hit back-to-back shots off of Ray to put the Yankees up by a run again. Rizzo, who flied to right on a 3-0 pitch in his previous at-bat, drilled a 3-1 pitch out to right to make it 2-2 before Judge put them ahead.
After King threw 1 ¹/₃ shutout innings, Luis Severino tossed a scoreless seventh and Chad Green pitched around a leadoff double by Bichette in the eighth.
Brett Gardner’s homer in the ninth gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead and Aroldis Chapman finished it in the bottom of the inning.
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