NEW YORK — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., already the face of the upstart Toronto Blue Jays, rocked the role of a true Maple Leaf on Wednesday night as well.
Guerrero shook off a bloody gash on his right ring finger to hit three home runs against the opposing Yankees, including two off ace Gerrit Cole, in Toronto’s 6-4 win.
“Out of this world punch,” New York manager Aaron Boone said of Guerrero. “One of the best hitters in the world.”
The AL MVP runner-up homered off Cole in the first inning, accidentally pricked his hand on a play at first base in the second, then hit a line drive off Cole in the third to put Toronto up 3-0. He doubled off Cole in the sixth, prompting the pitcher to flaunt tipping his cap at the 23-year-old, and then hit a 443-foot home run to lead off the eighth off Jonathan Loaisiga in the eighth for a go-ahead. from 5-3.
“Did you see his night?” Cole said at his postgame availability when she was asked about the tip of the cap. “If you had a cap, you would tip him too.”
It was Guerrero’s second career three-homer game, matching the highest set of his career on April 27 against Washington.
The Blue Jays have won two of three from the Yankees with the series finale on Thursday. New York’s new lineup has struggled offensively during this season-opening homestand, even receiving a few boos from the Yankees faithful.
Guerrero looked like he might have to go in the second inning when his bare pitching hand was accidentally hit by running back Aaron Hicks. Guerrero had to cross his body for infielder Bo Bichette’s throw and placed his right hand behind the first base bag for balance. Hicks stomped on it and went without an infield single.
Guerrero, 23, immediately began waving his hand, then walked toward the Toronto dugout as blood dripped onto his uniform and the turf.
In a display of toughness sure to satisfy Toronto’s hockey-obsessed fans, Guerrero had a trainer dress his wound and ran back to first base a couple of minutes later.
With a bloodstain on the right thigh of his pants, he hit again in the top of the third and turned Cole’s 98 mph fastball into a 427-foot, two-run homer and a 3-0 lead for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tiles.
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after the win that Guerrero just didn’t want to get out of the game and of course the team didn’t want that either. Montoyo, in making him available to the media, also credited Toronto’s coaching staff for preparing the first baseman to return.
“In addition to Vladdy, the coaches were tonight’s MVPs,” Montoyo said.
Guerrero used his right hand to high-five base coaches Mark Budzinski and Luis Rivera as he rounded the bases, then clapped loudly before touching home plate.
Guerrero’s first home run was nearly stolen up the middle by Hicks, who jumped over the wall and briefly had the ball in his glove. He went down when Hicks hit the wall, bounced off something past the home run barrier and came back into the game. A replay review confirmed that the ball came out.
“I wish it was against someone else,” New York outfielder Aaron Judge said, “so I could see it on TV and not see it live.”
Guerrero has four home runs in six games this season after leading the majors with 48 last season.
Associated Press contributed to this report.