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The Yankees remade their starting rotation, but they still figure to rely heavily on their bullpen.
Even without Aroldis Chapman for a second straight game, the relief corps helped the Yankees get their first victory of the season, a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday in The Bronx.
They got a second homer in as many games from Gary Sanchez and a two-run single from Jay Bruce, but they were clinging to a two-run lead in the eighth inning when Darren O’Day allowed a pair of bloop singles to open the inning.
O’Day recovered to get a pair of outs before manager Aaron Boone went to Chad Green for a four-out save. With two on and two out in that eighth inning, the right-hander got Rowdy Tellez swinging on a 1-and-2, 95-mph four-seamer to preserve the two-run lead.
Green finished the game in the ninth in front of an announced crowd of 10,107 at Yankee Stadium. Chapman will be back Sunday after serving his two-game suspension for throwing near the head of the Rays’ Mike Brosseau last season.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the second. Gio Urshela hit a two-out single and went to third on a hard Clint Frazier double to left. DJ LeMahieu followed with a slow grounder to third and Cavan Biggio’s throw pulled Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s foot off the first-base bag, resulting in an RBI single as Urshela scored.
Toronto tied the game in the third with the help of a pair of walks by Yankees starter Corey Kluber. A wild pitch allowed Danny Jansen to get to third and Jansen scored when Marcus Semien swiped second and Sanchez’s throw went into center field for an error.
Kluber escaped trouble in the top of the fourth. Guerrero and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back singles with one out and Randal Grichuk drew a two-out walk before Jansen grounded out to keep the game tied.
Sanchez put the Yankees ahead again in the bottom of the inning, when he led off with his second homer in as many games. After falling behind 0-and-2, Sanchez got the count back to 2-and-2 and then sent a shot into the left field seats for a 2-1 lead.
A one-out walk to Frazier and a single from LeMahieu knocked Jays starter Ross Stripling out of the game in the fourth. Aaron Judge’s single off Tyler Chatwood loaded the bases for Aaron Hicks, whose infield hit drove in a run to make it 3-1.
Kluber immediately gave up a run in the fifth, allowing a leadoff homer to Semien. That ended his afternoon after four-plus innings in his Yankees debut. He allowed two runs, one earned, in four-plus innings and threw 74 pitches. After walking seven in his final two starts in spring training, the right-hander walked three and hit another batter on Saturday.
Jonathan Loaisiga came on and retired all six batters he faced, striking out three.
The Yankees added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Rafael Dolis walked the bases loaded with two out before being replaced by Tim Mayza, who came on to face Bruce. Bruce flared a two-run single into shallow left to extend the lead to 5-2.
Lucas Luetge, pitching in his first major league game since 2015, allowed a bloop hit to Grichuk leading off the seventh. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, which helped Grichuk score on Semien’s grounder to short to cut it to 5-3.
In the eighth, O’Day entered and quickly permitted a pair of bloop hits before getting Guerrero and to fly to left and Gurriel to line to left, where Brett Gardner made the catch. Green came on and earned the save.
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