NEW YORK — When Corey Kluber gave up a solo home run to Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien to start the fourth inning on Saturday, cutting Toronto's deficit to just one run, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called to the bullpen.
Boone needed five innings from the 'pen to close it out. With a little help from New York's offense, adding a few tallies of insurance along the way, the Yankees were able to secure their first win of the regular season, defeating the Blue Jays, 5-3.
Following Kluber, right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga twirled two scoreless frames. Then, after left-hander Lucas Luetge allowed a run in the seventh, Darren O'Day and Chad Green shut the door.
"Loaisiga comes in and gives us two really good innings. It was good to get Lucas in there. I thought he threw the ball well," Boone said after the win. "Wanted that lane there for O'Day with their righties there in the middle, so it was just kind of going to be where we were in the lineup. And that's how I was gonna go with it."
Green was credited with a four-out save, pitching a perfect ninth inning with closer Aroldis Chapman serving the final game of his two-game suspension.
Coming off an extra-innings loss in Thursday's opener, in which the Yankees left 10 runners on base, the offense was able to put a few rallies together in the middle innings.
In the fourth, following a solo home run from catcher Gary Sánchez (his second in as many days), center fielder Aaron Hicks was able to beat out an infield single to put New York in front by two.
Two frames later, first baseman Jay Bruce—celebrating his 34th birthday—blooped a two-run single into shallow left field off left-hander Chris Mayza. The base hit put this game out of reach for the Blue Jays.
"I was just trying to see something up and not walk off the plate with a slider," Bruce said. "It wasn't the prettiest or hardest hit of all time, but I'll take every one I can get and it was timely and that's even more important."
After 4.2 innings in relief in Thursday's loss, the Yankees' bullpen has now combined to throw 9.2 innings with two runs allowed (only one earned). That's without Chapman as well as left-handers Zack Britton and Justin Wilson, who started the season on the injured list.
"I think we have a lot of talent," Green said. "It's just guys continuing to step up and do whatever job that they're told to do, whatever role that might be. It's definitely been fun to watch for the first couple of games, hopefully we continue to see guys in the middle dominate."
The Yankees will look to win their first series of the season with right-hander Domingo Germán on the mound Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.
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