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Kyle Higashioka belts three homers in Yankees’ destruction of Jays

Kyle Higashioka belts three homers in Yankees' destruction of Jays

There are games big-league players never forget no matter how long they play.

Kyle Higashioka had one of them Wednesday night, when the career backup catcher, who was dropped from the Yankees’ 40-man roster five years ago and brought back a dozen days later, slugged three home runs and led the Yankees to a 13-2 pounding of the Blue Jays in The Bronx.

Catching Gerrit Cole for the third straight game, Higashioka hit a two-run homer in the third inning, flied to the warning track in the fourth, hit a bases-empty homer in the sixth and a two-run homer in the seventh.

“I think at this point, the way he is swinging I might be his personal pitcher,’’ Cole said of Higashioka, who was a teammate of Cole on the Southern California summer circuit as teenagers.

The Yankees tied a season high with a seventh straight win that followed a 20-6 flogging of the Blue Jays on Tuesday night when they hit six homers. They topped that by one Wednesday.

In addition to Higashioka’s power show, DJ LeMahieu hit two homers and Clint Frazier and Luke Voit added one each. Voit leads the majors in home runs with 19.

Higashioka started the night with seven big-league homers in 178 at-bats and is considered a defense-first catcher with some pop if pitchers miss on the inner half.

Kyle Higashioka celebrates with Tyler Wade (14) after hitting one of his three homers in the Yankees' 13-2 win over the Jays.
Kyle Higashioka celebrates with Tyler Wade (14) after hitting one of his three homers in the Yankees’ 13-2 win over the Jays.Robert Sabo

“He is an elite receiver, I mean he has amazing hands behind the plate,’’ Aaron Boone said of the 30-year-old Higashioka, who was a seventh-round pick of the Yankees in the 2008 draft. “And he has power at the plate. There is the power potential that is in there and you saw it manifest itself tonight.’’

Higashioka’s first three big-league hits were homers, but the first one stopped a trying indoctrination to the majors, so hitting three Wednesday night topped the first three.

“I think it might be number one. The first three came after an 0-for-22 and they were three hits over 12 at-bats,’’ said Higashioka, who didn’t miss by much joining Lou Gehrig as the only Yankee to hit four homers in a game when he flied out to the warning track in left in the fourth inning.

Overshadowed by Higashioka’s muscle was Cole’s second solid outing in which he allowed one run and three hits in seven innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA and posted his 100th career victory.

The win pushed the Yankees to within three lengths of the AL East-leading Rays. The three-game deficit is actually four since the Rays won the season series against the Yankees and hold the tiebreaker.

With 11 games remaining, the Yankees hold a 1 ½-game advantage over the Blue Jays in the race for second place, which brings an automatic bid to the postseason tournament.

Higashioka became the 23rd player to hit three or more homers in a regular-season game in Yankee history. Among the members of that fraternity Higashioka joined are Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez.

“What a performance. He’s got that kind of power. I think he did a great job being aggressive with the fastball. Pitches he was fouling off the other day he didn’t miss them,’’ Boone said. “Great job behind the plate and a night at the plate he will remember forever.’’

And reinforced something every player knows.

“It is kind of crazy how baseball works sometimes,’’ said Higashioka, who started the night hitting .188 (6-for-32). “One minute you can’t hit the ball to save your life and the next game you play you pop three over the fence. It’s kind of crazy but hopefully as a team we keep swinging the bats well.’’

About the author

Evan Lewis

Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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