TORONTO — The New York Yankees are a hard team to keep down, even when slugger Aaron Judge does not play.
The Toronto Blue Jays gave it a good try Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game series at the Rogers Centre.
Their starter — Marco Estrada — shut the Yankees out for six innings before being replaced by Seunghwan Oh after allowing a leadoff hit in the seventh.
The Yankees went to work with the first career grand slam by Miguel Andujar and Aaron Hicks added a three-run blast in the eighth in a 7-2 victory.
Oh patted Estrada on the back and the starter returned the gesture.
“I don’t expect any reliever to come up to me and pat me on the back,” Estrada said. “I feel worse than they do. Especially Oh. He’s a great guy and I feel bad for him that that happened in that inning. But those things happen and you just have to let it go.”
That is happening a lot for the Blue Jays lately. They do not have any aspect of their game working.
Meanwhile, New York is 4-1 on a nine-game road trip — including a 17-9 record on the road this season — and 8-3 in their last 11 games.
The Yankees (39-18) will send out right-hander Sonny Gray (4-4, 5.50 ERA) Wednesday as they go for the sweep. The Blue Jays (26-34) will counter with right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-1, 3.32 ERA).
Judge was given Tuesday off after going 0-for-9 with a record eight strikeouts in a doubleheader split against the Tigers in Detroit on Monday. Judge described it as a “terrible day.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone had talked to Judge about the possibility of giving him a day off during the nine-game road trip.
“I talked to him about this probably before we went on this road trip, just with the stretch of games and a doubleheader mixed in there,” Boone said. “I’ve talked to you guys a lot about trying to pick a day here for everyone, and the fact that we rode him through a doubleheader, I just felt like today — getting in late, onto the turf, he’s been a guy that obviously I’ve leaned on a lot. I just felt like it was a good time.”
Gray will make his 12th start of the season in the series finale. The 28-year-old, who will be starting on regular four days’ rest, earned the win on Friday at Baltimore against the Orioles, allowing one run, four hits and no walks while striking out six in six innings.
Gray is 0-0 with a 7.32 ERA in two starts this season against the Blue Jays. He is 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 10 career starts against Toronto and is 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in six career starts at the Rogers Centre.
Gaviglio will make his sixth appearance and fourth start for the Blue Jays since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo. He took his first loss as a Blue Jay May 30 when he allowed four runs, seven hits (including two homers) and struck out four in six innings.
The Blue Jays are 12-18 at home and have lost nine of their past 10 games at the Rogers Centre. They have gone 31 games without winning two in a row, tied for the third longest stretch in club history.
“We still like our team,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We’re not playing particularly well, obviously.”
Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia allowed two runs and three hits (two homers) over seven innings to earn the win on Tuesday. The Blue Jays are 8-17 in games against left-handed starters, including a franchise-high 10 losses in a row.
New York is 11-1-1 over its past 13 completed series and 30-9 in its last 39 games since Gray’s last start against Toronto on April 20.
The game Tuesday was the Yankees’ 26th multi-homer game of the season and they are 20-6 in those games.
The Yankees are 6-3 in the season series against the Blue Jays.