TORONTO — On Thursday night, Anthony Rizzo homered to end the game.
On Friday night, he effectively did the same – in the fifth inning.
Rizzo crushed a Grand Slam to cap an eight-point streak as the Yankees ran away with a 12-3 victory over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the series at Rogers Center.
After his home run on Thursday gave the Yankees a 2-1 victory over the Rays, Rizzo left no doubt with his home run against the Blue Jays, hitting him about 435 feet from the face above the second deck in right field. That gave the Yankees a 10-1 lead in the fifth inning, virtually putting their eighth straight win on the ice.
“It’s kind of the knockout blow,” manager Aaron Boone said.
It was Rizzo’s sixth home run in his last 13 games as he continued to smash the ball in June. He hit nine home runs in his first 20 games, then hit just two in his next 30 games before his final blistering streak.
Rizzo, who went 2-for-3 with a hit-per-pitch and a walk on the night, has also been hitting the ball well lately, even when not on home run. In his last 14 games, he’s batting .291 (16-for-55) with a .989 OPS and 18 RBI.
“Just season ups and downs,” said Rizzo, who is also 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position during that streak. “I just work through the issues and always try to find the right position. … When I get hit by throws, I feel like it really locks me in more, just staying on the ball.”
Sure enough, Rizzo was hit with a pitch to the left thigh to lead the deciding fifth inning on Friday.
Later in the frame, the Blue Jays intentionally walked Aaron Judge to load the bases with one out for Josh Donaldson, who struck out. But Rizzo didn’t let them off the hook, erasing a hanging curveball from Trevor Richards for his sixth career Grand Slam and the Yankees’ third homer of the inning.
“The bases are loaded, they’re walking Judgey and just to be able to get through this – our MVP is getting walked, we all want to make them pay, anytime, when someone is intentionally being walked over,” Rizzo said. “But the year [Judge] a, we just always want to have his back. The grand slam is the best way to do it.
After seeing Rizzo brawl in May with a .167/.268/.313 slash line, Boone is happy to have him back in a groove.
“It was good, because he was working there that month,” Boone said. “He still had some big hits at bat, but he was getting by. It’s nice to see him, over the past week or 10 days, really starting to – his contact quality is getting really good now.