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Yusei Kikuchi makes debut, looks to continue Jays’ success in Bronx

Sep 20, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. (65) delivers against the Texas Rangers during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Fans at Yankee Stadium booed George Springer and Aaron Judge for different reasons on Monday night.

While Springer answered the boos with a big performance, Judge experienced a rough night at the plate. The Blue Jays will get a chance for their sixth straight win in New York on Tuesday night when the American League East foes continue a four-game series.

Toronto is 9-2 in its past 11 visits to New York and has outscored the Yankees 28-8 during its winning streak there. After recording a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 6-9, the Blue Jays opened the latest series with 3-0 victory on Monday.

Springer, who was 5-for-15 against the Yankees last year, went 3-for-5 and is 7-for-18 (.389) through the season’s first four games. He hit a two-run homer in the third off Jameson Taillon and then added an RBI double in the seventh.

“It’s exciting to feel good and it’s exciting to play every day,” Springer said. “I love playing. That’s who I am.”

Springer, who contributed greatly to a 10-hit showing by Toronto’s offense, heard boos in each at-bat due to being part of the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros, whose sign-stealing scandal was revealed two years later.

Toronto starter Alek Manoah said of the atmosphere, “There’s a lot of fans here and it’s just an exciting ballpark to play in and something you dream of as a kid.”

The Yankees opened the season with a pair of close wins over the Boston Red Sox, but they went a combined 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position while dropping their past two games. On Monday, Joey Gallo had two of New York’s four hits. Judge went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and heard some booing from fans after a strikeout in the eighth.

“The boos tend to drown out some of the cheers, especially in a game where we’re not generating a lot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who signed a three-year deal last month, makes his Blue Jays debut on Tuesday.

He went 15-24 with a 4.97 ERA in 70 starts for the Seattle Mariners over the past three seasons, including 7-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 29 starts last season. In 2021, he produced a 6-3 record with a 3.18 ERA in his first 15 starts but went 1-6 with a 6.22 ERA in his final 14 outings.

Kikuchi is 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees. His only win against them came on May 8, 2019, in New York when he took a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Nestor Cortes, who was 2-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 22 appearances (14 starts) last season, will start Tuesday for the Yankees. Cortes was 2-3 with a 3.07 ERA as a starter in 2021, including an 11-strikeout performance over 6 1/3 innings Sept. 15 at Baltimore.

The left-hander is 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in seven career appearances against the Blue Jays. His lone career start against Toronto came last Sept. 9 in New York, when he allowed two runs on six hits in six innings during a no-decision.

–Field Level Media