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Solarte homers, Pillar steals home, Toronto tops Yankees 5-3

April 1, 2018

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada throws against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — With the Toronto Blue Jays struggling to score runs, Kevin Pillar found another way to create some offense.

Yangervis Solarte hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and Pillar added an insurance run by stealing second, third and home to send the Blue Jays over the New York Yankees 5-3 Saturday for their first win of the season.

“Sometimes when runs are tough to come by, especially early on in the year, you’ve got to go out there and try to make some stuff happen,” Pillar said.

The Blue Jays bounced back from two straight losses in which they totaled three runs. Tyler Austin homered twice for the Yankees.

Solarte began the eighth with a deep drive to center field off Dellin Betances (0-1) for a 4-3 lead.

“He threw me a pitch that I liked and it went out,” Solarte said.

Pillar hit a one-out single and swiped his way to third. The speedy outfielder then broke for the plate with Gift Ngoepe at bat, and Betances threw wildly to the backstop as Pillar scored standing up.

“I kind of looked at him and I noticed he was a little far away from third base,” Betances said. “I thought to myself I could try to come set, step off and throw, but I rushed the throw. That’s a big mistake there. I can’t do that.”

It was Toronto’s first straight steal of home since Aaron Hill did it against New York on May 29, 2007.

Betances allowed two runs and three hits in two innings. The Blue Jays stole four times in the eighth against him.

“I felt good overall but I kind of let things unravel a little bit there,” Betances said.

New manager Aaron Boone said he will stick with Betances, who has allowed runs in both appearances this season after struggling last September.

“We’ll continue to work with him, continue to believe in him and continue to need him in big situations,” Boone said.

Justin Smoak had three hits on his bobblehead doll day as the Blue Jays denied New York its first 3-0 start since 2003.

Ryan Tepera (1-0) pitched one inning for the win and Roberto Osuna finished for his first save.

Austin homered in consecutive at bats against Marco Estrada, the first multihomer game of his career. Austin hit a two-run drive in the fifth and a solo shot in the seventh. Both homers reached the second deck, and both tied the score.

“A little peek into the strength of Tyler Austin right there,” Boone said.

The Yankees lost two players to injuries.

Outfielder Billy McKinney sprained his left shoulder when he crashed into the left field scoreboard while chasing Josh Donaldson’s double in the first. After being checked by the trainer, McKinney stayed in for one more batter before being replaced by Brett Gardner. McKinney made his major league debut a day earlier.

Following the game, McKinney was put on the 10-day disabled list and infielder Miguel Andujar was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Boone said Andujar will be used at third, first and DH.

Boone said McKinney’s recovery time would be “at least a few weeks.”

Yankees reliever Adam Warren exited in the sixth after being struck on the right ankle by Aledmys Diaz’s comebacker. Jonathan Holder came on and immediately gave up a tiebreaking single to Luke Maile. X-rays on Warren’s ankle were negative and he will be re-evaluated Sunday.

Toronto took its first lead of the season on Smoak’s RBI single in the first, then took a 2-0 on Smoak’s RBI double in the third off CC Sabathia.

Making his first career start in center field, Aaron Judge went 0 for 4 for the Yankees. He played the position after an injury to Aaron Hicks in the opener.

TALL TALE

The 6-foot-7 Judge tied Walt Bond of the 1964 Houston Colt .45s as the tallest center field in major league history.

PILLARCENY

Pillar is the first big league to steal three bases in an inning since San Diego’s Wil Myers did it last Aug. 16. Pillar is the first Blue Jays player to record three stolen bases in an inning.

EXTRA, EXTRA!

All four New York hits were for extra bases.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: X-rays on McKinney’s shoulder were negative. McKinney was recalled from Triple-A Friday after Hicks went on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained right ribcage. Outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right oblique) and Clint Frazier (concussion) are also on the DL.

Blue Jays: Donaldson (dead arm) felt good after throwing on the field before the game. Manager John Gibbons said he expects Donaldson to return to his position within “the next couple of days.” Donaldson made his second straight start at DH Saturday. ... 2B Devon Travis and C Russell Martin got the day off. Gibbons said Travis, who missed more than 100 games last year because of a right knee injury, will get at least one day off every three days for the time being. ... LHP Sam Moll cleared waivers and was assigned to the minor leagues.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray is 4-3 with a 2.47 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman was limited to two starts in spring training because of a sore shoulder. He’s 6-4 with a 3.19 ERA in 13 career starts against the Yankees.

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