TORONTO — On Thursday night, Anthony Rizzo homered to end the game.
On Friday night, he effectively did the same—in the fifth inning.
Rizzo crushed a grand slam to cap off an eight-run frame as the Yankees ran away with a 12-3 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener at Rogers Centre.
After his walk-off homer Thursday gave the Yankees a 2-1 win over the Rays, Rizzo left no doubt with his round-tripper against the Blue Jays, clobbering it an estimated 435 feet to the facing above the second deck in right field. That gave the Yankees a 10-1 lead in the fifth inning, all but putting their eighth straight win on ice.
“That’s kind of the knockout blow right there,” manager Aaron Boone said.
It was Rizzo’s sixth home run in his past 13 games as he continued to mash the ball in June. He drilled nine home runs in his first 20 games, then hit just two over his next 30 games before his latest hot streak.
Rizzo, who went 2-for-3 with a hit by pitch and walk on the night, has also been hitting the ball well lately, even when he is not homering. Over his past 14 games, he is batting .291 (16-for-55) with a .989 OPS and 18 RBI.
“Just ebbs and flows of the season,” said Rizzo, who is also 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position during that stretch. “Just working through kinks and always trying to find the right position to be in. … When I get hit by pitches, I feel like it really locks me in more, just staying on the ball.”
Sure enough, Rizzo was hit by a pitch on the left thigh to lead off the decisive fifth inning Friday.
Later in the frame, the Blue Jays intentionally walked Aaron Judge to load the bases with one out for Josh Donaldson, who struck out. But Rizzo didn’t let them off the hook, obliterating a hanging curveball from Trevor Richards for his sixth career grand slam and the Yankees’ third home run of the inning.
“Bases loaded, they walk Judgey and just to be able to come through there — our MVP getting walked, we all just want to make them pay, at all times, when anyone gets intentionally walked,” Rizzo said. “Goal the year [Judge] is having, we just want to always have his back. The grand slam’s the best way you can do it.
After seeing Rizzo scuffle in May with a .167/.268/.313 slash line, Boone is glad to have him back in a groove.
“It’s been good, because he was grinding there for that month,” Boone said. “He was still having some big at-bats, but he was grinding through it. It’s nice to see him, over the last week or 10 days, really start to — the quality of his contact is getting really good now.”