NEW YORK — Russell Martin homered twice and drove in four runs against his former team, and the Toronto Blue Jays went deep five times to beat the New York Yankees 11-5 Friday night in the opener of their weekend showdown for first place in the AL East.
Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak each hit a two-run shot in a five-run first inning to build a big lead for David Price. Edwin Encarnacion added a titanic drive after the Blue Jays chased rookie starter Luis Severino in the third.
Seeking its first playoff appearance in 22 years, Toronto increased its division lead to 2 1/2 games over New York. The teams play a rare single-admission doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Saturday to make up Thursday night’s rainout. The four-game series concludes Sunday.
A vocal contingent of Toronto fans made themselves heard all night, with Yankees supporters attempting to drown out chants of “Let’s go Blue Jays!” after the crowd of 40,220 had dwindled considerably by the eighth inning.
Didi Gregorius hit a three-run homer and knocked in four for the Yankees, who have a comfortable lead in the wild-card race to fall back on. But they want to win the AL East and avoid the win-or-go-home scenario of a wild-card game.
Handed an 8-1 cushion, Price (15-5) lasted only five innings because he needed 96 pitches to get that far. The ace left-hander struck out seven and improved to 6-1 since the Blue Jays acquired him in a July 30 trade with Detroit.
He has defeated the Yankees twice in three starts since then and has not permitted more than three runs in any of his seven outings with Toronto.
Price is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his last eight starts at Yankee Stadium.
Severino (3-3) gave up a double to his first batter and stumbled to his knees on his fifth pitch. He flexed his left leg as manager Joe Girardi and a trainer came out to check on him, but Severino threw one warmup pitch and remained in the game.
Then the 21-year-old right-hander really took a tumble.
Donaldson hit a long homer into the elevated concrete bleachers in left field. Encarnacion doubled and scored on Troy Tulowitzki’s single before Smoak homered to right.
Martin added an RBI single in the third. Encarnacion, who has reached base safely in a club-record 40 consecutive games, took a long look at his two-run clout in the fourth off Chris Martin that landed in the rarely reached second deck in left.
Alex Rodriguez struck out all four times up for the Yankees, drawing boos.
Blue Jays: Rookie 2B Devon Travis (left shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list when Toronto activated RHP Marcus Stroman (knee) from the 60-day DL and recalled RHP Chad Jenkins from Triple-A Buffalo. Eligible to return on Sept. 27, Travis has been taking dry swings and making some progress, a Blue Jays spokesman said. But the team isn’t sure Travis will make it back this season.
Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira will miss the rest of the season after a third round of tests finally revealed a broken right leg. Teixeira fouled a ball off his shin Aug. 17 and has started only once since. GM Brian Cashman said Teixeira is three weeks into a recovery process that will take at least three months, but the switch-hitting slugger should be ready for the start of next season.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (12-8) starts the opener Saturday, with Stroman making his season debut in the second game. The 24-year-old Stroman, who had surgery in March to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA as a rookie last season. He grew up on Long Island about 55 miles from Yankee Stadium and said he’s leaving around 20 passes for friends and family Saturday. Stroman completed his sociology degree this year while rehabbing his knee at Duke, where he played college ball.
Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (10-8) gets the ball in the first game Saturday. RHP Ivan Nova (6-7) makes his 100th major league start in the nightcap.
Mike Fitzpatrick, The Associated Press