Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- It was an unlikely duo that provided the New York Yankees with all the offense they would need in a come from behind 8-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of a doubleheader, but perhaps Robinson Cano and Chris Stewart should team up more often.
Cano, who finished 4-for-4, hit his 200th career home run, and 23rd of the season in the bottom of third inning off Jays’ starter Esmil Rogers to bring the Yankees within one run at 4-3.
“It feels good, ” said Cano. I got guys behind me, going to see more pitches. Gotta take advantage.”
Stewart, the Yankees’ catcher known more his ability to call games behind the plate coupled with an impressive arm that seeks out potential base-stealers, clobbered his fourth home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead that they would never relinquish.
“It’s a huge at-bat that Stewie [Chris Stewart] gives us,” said Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi on Stewart’s blast. “That’s a big at-bat, especially with two outs.”
Helping the Pinstripes rally turn into a lead, Stewart’s three-run shot into left-field off Blue Jays’ reliever Neil Wagner, snapped a 173 at-bat homer-less streak going back to May 15 of this year when Stewart hit a solo-shot off Seattle Mariners’ starter Hisashi Iwakuma in a 12-2 loss.
“Not an everyday thing,” said Stewart of his home run, adding, “Hell might freeze over.”
Wagner, who went just two-thirds of an inning, picked up the loss [2-4] in giving up two earned runs off one hit, the Stewart home run.
Toronto got off to a hot start off Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova, scoring all four of their runs off of him in the top of the second inning.
The Bluebirds began their assault after beginning the inning by placing runners on first and second on a single by Adam Lind and a hit-by-pitch to Brett Lawrie. Toronto second baseman Macier Izturis would drive in the first run, with an RBI-single into center scoring Lind from second base, 1-0 Jays.
With one out, rookie left-fielder Kevin Pillar made it 2-0 with his first career RBI [on a ground-out, fielders-choice] scoring Lawrie. The Jays continued to tack on the runs against Nova, when center-fielder Rajai Davis smacked a two-RBI [13, 14] double into right-field, scoring Izturis and Jose Reyes for a 4-0 Blue Jays advantage.
“We got up on top 4-0 and couldn’t hold it,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “We walk Nix, then Stewart beats us and puts them up by two. Those are the guys you hope and expect to get out. But they only scored four runs, and we didn’t do anything after that, so we had some opportunities.”
The Yankees bullpen consisting of: Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera kept the Jays scoreless in two and a third innings of no-hit baseball, giving up just three walks while striking out two.
Nova [7-4] picked up his seventh win of the season, going 6.1 innings for four earned runs off nine hits. Despite continuing his streak of holding opponents homer-less in his last 42.2 innings pitched, Nova failed to go seven innings for the first time since June 29th at Baltimore.
“You feel better when you have a lineup like that,” said Nova of the additions of Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano. “Keeps your team in the game.”
The Blue Jays had their best chance to tie or take the lead in the top of the seventh inning after back-to-back walks by Kelley gave Lawrie a shot to do some damage. Lawrie, who entered the game batting .444 with the bases loaded in his career, flied out to center-field to end the inning.
Toronto would strand nine base-runners, while hitting into two double-plays. In the top of the fourth, and with Nova settling down on the mound, Yankees’ shortstop Jayson Nix made a web gem worthy nomination when his bare-handed throw to first beat out the speedy Reyes.
Nix scored the final run for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth inning off Blue Jays reliever Thad Weber, after a failed pick-off attempt turned error got Nix to third base, while a sacrifice-fly RBI  by Brett Gardner sent Nix home to make it 8-4 Yankees.
Now one hit away from 4,000 career hits, Ichiro Suzuki, who finished 2-for-5, scored on an RBI-double by Cano all the way from first base that gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista left the game in the fourth inning with left hip soreness and was evaluated as game-to-game, but will most likely miss the second game of the twin bill.