TORONTO — The beat goes on for Toronto’s beleaguered pitching staff.
On Wednesday, Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch became the sixth pitcher in franchise history to allow three homers in his debut as the Yankees led early and then piled on in an 11-5 victory.
Reliever Leonel Campos was unable to quell the fire after Tepesch gave up back-to-back doubles as the Yankees scored three in the fifth for a 6-2 lead.
After a brief Toronto rally narrowed the gap to one run, New York (60-52) reeled off two runs in the eighth inning and three in the ninth with Jays reliever Taylor Cole, in his major league debut, suffering the worst of it.
"We didn’t have a whole lot down there left," manager John Gibbons said. "Our bullpen guys are getting abused a little bit. That’s what happens."
Led by Todd Frazier, the bottom of the New York batting order did most of the damage with hitters No. 6 through No. 9 driving in nine runs on the night.
Toronto answered with single runs in the second and third. And for a while, the Jays (53-60) kept chipping away despite being outhit 17-6.
Jose Bautista hit his 18th homer of the season to open the fifth for Toronto. Then Ryan Goins’ RBI double and Josh Donaldson’s RBI single cut the Yankee lead to 6-5 in the sixth.
"I thought we had a chance to win but they just blew it open there," said Gibbons.
The Yankees padded the lead in the eighth via Ronald Torreyes’ two-RBI single off Cole, the Jays’ sixth pitcher of the night. The 27-year-old, whose fastball hit 95 m.p.h., gave up a double, single, walk and single after inheriting a runner.
It could have been more but Torreyes was thrown out at home trying to score from second on a single. Cole ended the inning on a high note, striking out giant slugger Aaron Judge.
"I think that’s something I’ll never forget," he said. "What a great player, especially the year that he’s having. For that to be my first strikeout.
"I’m just glad to be here. A lot of people have sacrificed. It’s just a humbling experience. I wish it had gone better … You keep grinding."
Cole loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsmen in the ninth, with three more runs coming in on a groundout and single before Danny Barnes, in his 40th appearance of the season, put out the fire.
Reliever Chad Green (2-0) got the win as the Yankees, who had lost six of their last nine, evened the three-game series at 1-1.
The Jays came into the game having won four of their last six and nine of their last 15.
Tepesch was filling in for the injured Cesar Valdez who in turn was filling in for the injured Aaron Sanchez. The 28-year-old right-hander, purchased from Minnesota on July 24, gave up five runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk in a 81-pitch evening that included 54 strikes.
"Most of the time solo homers aren’t going to hurt you but I gave up three tonight," said Tepesch. "I didn’t think it was horrible but I didn’t think it was great either."
He was making his 42nd career major-league start but just his third since 2014. Toronto is his sixth major-league organization (Texas, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, Kansas City, Minnesota and Toronto).
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka threw a lot of pitches, having trouble finding the plate at times, but yielded just one hit and one run in his first four innings. He exited in the fifth after issuing a career-high five walks.
Sanchez and Frazier homered to open the second, the seventh time Toronto has conceded back-to-back blasts this season.
Centre-fielder Kevin Pillar almost got to Sanchez’s 394-foot shot, soaring high but just missing the ball with his glove well above the top of the wall.
The Jays loaded the bases with one out in their half of the third after Sanchez was dinged for catcher interference and Tanaka gave up two walks. But Toronto got just one run out of it on Steve Pearce’s sacrifice fly.
Judge recorded his 82nd base on balls, breaking Charlie Keller’s Yankees’ single-season rookie record.