NEW YORK – The oft-injured Yankees started Saturday with a rare positive medical report. Then they got something even scarcer this year — a signature, soaring home run from Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton connected for the first time since missing nearly three months to injury, James Paxton won his 10th straight start and New York beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2.
New York manager Aaron Boone was ejected after another tangle with a rookie umpire, and the 101-win Yankees got promising news shortly before first pitch when an MRI of Gleyber Torres’ achy right hamstring came back negative.
Two years after leading the majors with 59 homers for Miami, Stanton hit just his second of the season leading off the sixth against reliever Brock Stewart.
“Have to relearn how to jog around the bases a little bit,” he joked.
Stanton also had an RBI double in the fourth. The 29-year-old has only played 12 games this year due to biceps, shoulder, calf and knee injuries, and he is hitting .300 in 40 at-bats. He was replaced defensively in the seventh inning to manage his workload in his third game since coming back.
“It’s always good to get some results in your first few games back and feel like he’s stringing some good at-bats together,” Boone said.
The AL East champions entered with a major league-leading 294 homers.
Paxton (15-6) allowed an unearned run while pitching three-hit ball over six innings. The left-hander threw just 87 pitches and has a 2.25 ERA during his winning streak, the longest in a big league season since Justin Verlander’s 12 for Detroit in 2011 and for a Yankees pitcher since Ron Guidry’s 11 in 1979.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a stretch quite this long,” Paxton said. “I’ve had some good stretches in the past, but this is probably the longest stretch I’ve had.”
The Blue Jays ended a five-game winning streak, which matched their best this season. Toronto batters struck out 15 times, including on their last five outs and 10 of their final 11 as shadows extended between the plate and the mound. Jonathan Loaisiga punched out five in two innings, and Chad Green struck out the side in the ninth.
Boone watched nearly all of it from the clubhouse. The second-year manager shouted profanities from the dugout at plate umpire Jeremie Rehak — a call-up from Triple-A — after Stanton struck out looking against T.J. Zeuch to end the first inning. Crew chief Joe West quickly booted Boone from third base, and Rehak also tossed Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames.
“I was just upset within an at-bat where G’s coming back and I felt like there were a few in there in his at-bat where it kind of got taken away, so I just got animated,” Boone said. “The bottom line is I probably wasn’t going to get thrown out from Jeremie. I was starting to walk away and the confrontation happened with Joe.”
It was the fifth ejection this year for Boone, including his memorable “savages” tirade at rookie umpire Brennan Miller in July — Yankees players routinely wear T-shirts commemorating the rant. New York was already peeved with West over his strike zone Friday night, when Brett Gardner argued vigorously after a called strike in the ninth.
New York slugger Aaron Judge doubled leading off the fourth and scored on Stanton’s two-base hit. Mike Ford drove in Stanton with a single two batters later for a 2-1 lead. Ford had three hits and two RBIs.
Stanton’s homer sparked a four-run inning that included RBI hits by Clint Frazier and Kyle Higashioka.
Zeuch (1-1), a 6-foot-7 sinkerballer making his fourth big league start, took advantage of Rehak’s low strike zone to rack up six strikeouts in four innings. He allowed two runs and four hits.
“The one to Stanton, I thought it was a good pitch, a good spot,” he said of a down-and-in sinker. “Just probably maybe the wrong pitch at the wrong time.”
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The Yankees will still be careful with Torres despite the encouraging diagnosis. The star second baseman slipped and fell awkwardly fielding a ground ball Friday night. Torres was not in the lineup Saturday and won’t play Sunday either, but he said he feels good and just wants to “be smart.”
The 22-year-old leads the team with 38 homers and is hitting .284 with 90 RBIs and an .889 OPS, and he’s among the few New York players to avoid the injured list this year. The Yankees have six games remaining before their post-season opener Oct. 4.
Blue Jays: SS Bo Bichette remained in concussion protocol after being hit by a fastball on the bill of his helmet Thursday and also won’t play Sunday. Toronto is optimistic he’ll return this season.
Yankees: DH Edwin Encarnación (oblique) could return to the lineup during the upcoming midweek series against Tampa Bay. He’s a bit ahead of C Gary Sánchez (groin tightness), but Boone said Sánchez could be back for the final regular season series at Texas.
Yankees RHP Luis Severino (0-0, 0.00) makes his second appearance after missing most of the season with a lat injury. He pitched four scoreless innings against the Angels on Tuesday in his season debut. Toronto will pitch rookie RHP Trent Thornton (5-9, 4.93), likely after an opener.
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