Early fireworks spark Yanks-Jays showdown

Pitchers have a chore negotiating their way through the first four batters of the Toronto lineup as Nathan Eovaldi was the latest to experience Friday night. Three of the hitters reached base in the first inning and the other came within inches of a home run.

Still, Eovaldi was fortunate to escape the inning with only one run, the result of Josh Donaldson’s 30th home run of the season. The previous batter, leadoff hitter Troy Tulowitzki, threatened to go yard, but Brett Gardner caught the ball on the warning track near the left field corner.

Pitching carefully to slugger Jose Bautista, Eovaldi walked him on a full count. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a double down the left field line, which sent Bautista to third. Eovaldi survived the gauntlet and got out of the jam by retiring Justin Smoak on a fly to shallow left and Russell Martin on a grounder in front of the mound.

For the second time in three nights, the Yankees had to contend with a knuckleball pitcher. Former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey started for the Jays. The Yanks had only one run and four hits in eight innings Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox and Steven Wright.

The Yankees were obviously hoping that having faced a knuckleballer so recently might have been to their advantage, although manager Joe Girardi was not so sure.

“There are all kinds of theories on that,” Girard said. “The difference in speed. It’s really hard to say. I’ve seen where you face a knuckleballer and had a ton of success and then you do poorly the next day against the guy. Or vice versa: you do poorly against the knuckleballer and hit the next guy. It really comes down to if the pitcher is making his pitches.”

Mark Teixeira, who was 0-for-3 against Wright, matched Donaldson with his 30th home run leading off the second inning. It took more than three minutes for the dinger to become legit because Toronto manager John Gibbons requested a review based on a contention that a fan had obstructed with left fielder Ben Revere’s view of the ball by extending his hands over the wall. Replays showed that the fan never touched the ball, however, and Tex could touch ’em all.

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