Smoak Show: Slugger Justin Smoak hits two-run shot and grand slam in Jays' win - InfoNews

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Smoak Show: Slugger Justin Smoak hits two-run shot and grand slam in Jays' win

Toronto Blue Jays' Justin Smoak, right, is greeted at home plate by teammates Aledmys Diaz and Russell Martin after he hit a grand slam against the New York Yankees in the eighth inning of their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto on Sunday April 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill
April 01, 2018 - 2:47 PM

TORONTO - Justin Smoak felt like he let the team down in the first inning when he struck out with two men on and nobody out.

The Toronto slugger made up for it in a big way.

Smoak belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning and launched a grand slam in the eighth to power the Blue Jays to a 7-4 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday.

The go-ahead blast came on the ninth pitch of a showdown with Yankees setup man David Robertson (0-1). Smoak was thrown four straight breaking balls before he turned on a 93-m.p.h. fastball.

"He's one of the best in the game so you know going into it it's going to be a tough at-bat," Smoak said. "I just tried to battle and battle and battle.

"I was able to have that last good swing on it."

The victory gave Toronto (2-2) a split of its season-opening four-game series at Rogers Centre.

Tyler Clippard (1-0) worked an inning of relief for the win and Seung Hwan Oh pitched the ninth for his first save. Smoak, who tied a career high with six runs-batted in, had three of Toronto's 12 hits.

"You can't do any better than he did today," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "Especially with the game on the line, down a run and two outs against one of the top relievers in baseball."

Toronto starter Marcus Stroman was on a pitch count after being hampered by a right shoulder injury at spring training. He laboured through a 21-pitch first inning — walking a pair — before escaping with back-to-back strikeouts.

In the bottom half, Yankees starter Sonny Gray walked Devon Travis, who moved to third on an infield single by Josh Donaldson. Gray responding by fanning Smoak and the next two batters.

Stroman was in form until giving up a two-out walk and three straight hits in the third inning. Brandon Drury capped the four-run frame with a two-run homer.

"I think it was probably one of the worst sliders I've ever thrown in my life," Stroman said. "It just kind of casted out."

It was Drury's first home run as a Yankee. New York managed just five hits on the afternoon.

Stroman allowed four earned runs over five innings. He gave up three hits, three walks and had eight strikeouts.

Gray was pulled after giving up a leadoff single to Smoak in the fifth inning. The right-hander allowed one earned run, seven hits and three walks while striking out eight.

Donaldson walked in the seventh inning before Smoak hit his first homer of the season on a 1-0 pitch from Tommy Kahnle.

In the eighth, Martin led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out double by Aledmys Diaz. Travis grounded out and Donaldson was intentionally walked before Smoak hit his second career grand slam.

"I threw everything I had at him," Robertson said. "He just won today."

The game took three hours three minutes to play and announced attendance was 29,091.

Toronto will close out its seven-game homestand with a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox starting Monday night.

Notes: Donaldson (dead arm) was the designated hitter for a third straight game. He played catch in the outfield and took grounders at third base for about a half-hour after the game. ... Freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury threw the ceremonial first pitch. He won gold in the men's moguls competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics. ... The White Sox have tabbed right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (0-0) to start on Monday against Jaime Garcia (0-0). The southpaw signed a US$10-million, one-year deal with Toronto in the off-season. ... New York (2-2) will play its home opener Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be the 116th home opener in franchise history.

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Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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