Nick Swisher capped a seven-run fourth inning with a grand slam as the New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 10-7 to extend their lead to one game over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East.
The Yankees, who won their fifth straight Major League Baseball game while completing a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, improved to 86-63. The Orioles (85-64) were idle last night and are in a tie with the Oakland Athletics for the AL’s two wild cards. Oakland topped the Detroit Tigers 12-4 yesterday.
Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees have become more aware of their AL East competitors since they lost their 10-game division lead in July. The Orioles have won four straight games as they try to keep pace with the Yankees.
“It’s impossible not to see the scoreboard,” Girardi said. “You look at the outfielders, where they’re positioned, and you look at the infielders, where they’re positioned, and there’s the scoreboard.”
The Blue Jays had a 2-0 lead after Kelly Johnson hit a run-scoring double in the second and Colby Rasmus scored in the third when Moises Sierra was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium.
New York’s Ichiro Suzuki hit a solo home run in the third to make it 2-1.
Suzuki then drove in Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson with a double for the first runs in the fourth. Derek Jeter then hit a run-scoring single and Swisher blasted his third grand slam of the season, off reliever Brad Lincoln, to make it 8-2 in favor of the Yankees.
Sierra moved the Blue Jays within four runs with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth before Jayson Nix had a run-scoring double and Jeter drove home Nix in the bottom of the inning to make it 10-4.
The Blue Jays added three runs, including Johnson’s 15th home run of the season, in the eighth inning.
Phil Hughes improved to 16-12 after allowing four runs on four hits while striking out nine in five innings. David Robertson earned his second save, striking out three in the ninth inning.
Aaron Laffey (3-6) surrendered five runs on two hits and five walks in three innings to take the loss.
The Yankees begin a three-game home series against the Athletics tonight while the Orioles host the Boston Red Sox in the first of three contests.