TORONTO — The Yankees are making their tough schedule down the stretch look like a cakewalk.
And once again, it was powered by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who both went deep in the Yankees’ seventh straight win, as well as more superb work from the bullpen.
The 7-2 victory over Toronto gave the Yankees a two-game lead at the top of the AL wild-card race, thanks to the Red Sox losing in Baltimore. They now lead the Blue Jays by three games for the second spot with just five to play.
Judge, in the lineup despite having suffered a dislocated pinky on Sunday, homered in the third and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
And as has become routine recently, Stanton added some insurance with a monster late homer, this one a three-run shot in the seventh. He’s now homered in four consecutive games.
It came in front of 28,769, the biggest crowd of the season at Rogers Centre as a result of COVID restrictions being relaxed recently in Toronto.
The news wasn’t all good for the Yankees, though, as Jameson Taillon didn’t make it through three innings before reinjuring the partially torn right ankle tendon that sidelined him for three weeks and now figures to shut him down even longer.
But five relievers combined to limit the Blue Jays to one run over 6 ²/₃ innings, as Michael King, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Luis Severino and Wandy Peralta shut down the high-powered lineup.
Before the game, manager Aaron Boone said he wasn’t paying much attention to what the Yankees needed to do to clinch a playoff spot.
“I have people telling me that, ‘You need to this, you need to do that,’ ” Boone said. “When you’re in it, you take care of today. If we continue to do that and play our best baseball, we’ll be where we need to be.”
After a slow start against left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, who had allowed 12 runs over just 4 ¹/₃ innings in his previous two starts, the Yankees got going in the fifth.
Gio Urshela singled off Ryu with one out and DJ LeMahieu walked.
Anthony Rizzo delivered a single to right on a 1-2 pitch to drive in Urshela from second — thanks in part to a poor throw from Corey Dickerson, as Urshela took an awkward route to the plate.
Ryu was replaced by right-hander Adam Cimber, and Judge hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored LeMahieu and gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
They held on in the bottom of the sixth, as Holmes took over for King to start the inning and walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette grounded into a force out and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Bichette tried to get to third after another pitch in the dirt got away from Gary Sanchez, but Sanchez threw him out at third. Toronto challenged the call, but the call stood for the second out and the Yankees got out of the inning.
Stanton put the game out of reach with his two-out blast in the seventh, his 35th homer of the year.
The Yankees wasted a scoring chance in the top of the first, when Rizzo singled with one out and Judge followed with a double. Stanton struck out and Joey Gallo popped out to end the threat.
They fell behind in the bottom of the inning, as George Springer walked to lead off and stole second when Marcus Semien struck out.
Taillon got Guerrero to pop to short, but Bichette singled up the middle to score Springer with the game’s first run.
Judge tied it in the third with a two-out, opposite-field homer.
Toronto went ahead again in the fourth. Bichette led off with a single, moved to second on a groundout by Teoscar Hernandez and to third on a groundout by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Dickerson followed with a double to right to make it 2-1.