S & P 500

Gerrit Cole, Yankees beaten by the 3 homers of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

NEW YORK — Fittingly, 44 years ago on Wednesday, the Yankees handed out chocolate bars at the turnstiles to honor Reggie Jackson, paying tribute to his three-home run feat in a World Series game the previous October. When the slugger went deep in the first inning, thousands of orange-wrapped candies rained down from the seats in tribute.

Across the street from where those ‘Reggie!’ bars once interrupted a home opener, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put on an unforgettable show – a decidedly less sweet show for those who wear stripes. The Blue Jays star fought off a bloody injury to win three home runs, including two against ace Gerrit Cole, who literally tipped his cap in the Yankees’ 6-4 loss to the Bronx.

“Have you seen the night? said Cole, who removed his headgear after a brace in the sixth inning. “If you had a cork, you would also tip. I mean, it got better after that too. My God.”

It was the second three-home run of Guerrero’s career, a feat his Hall of Fame father never achieved. Guerrero had 14 total goals in the contest, going past Cole in the first and third innings, doubling in the sixth, then hitting Jonathan Loáisiga in the eighth.

“Just a strike from another world,” said manager Aaron Boone. “A pretty impressive display on his part. We were beaten by a big hitter tonight.

Early Wednesday, Cole said one of his goals was to throw more strikes early after seeing the front four Red Sox reach base on his opening day effort. Cole retired Toronto’s first two batters, then hooked an 87.4 mph slider to Guerrero, who hammered a drive that sent center fielder Aaron Hicks jumping near the wall.

Hicks felt the ball come out of his glove, seeing it bounce near the top of the fence and ricochet across the field of play. Guerrero was sent home after review; Yankee Stadium’s basic rules state that an “in-air batted ball hitting the top of the wall over/beyond the padding” is a home run, whether it bounces down the field or continues into the stands.

“I still don’t feel like it’s died down,” Hicks said. “I grabbed it and it slipped, but even watching the video I feel like it hit the top of the wall and came back.”

Hicks played a supporting role in the next chapter of Guerrero’s memorable night by clipping a second-inning runner to the right side of the infield. Shortstop Bo Bichette slipped and sent a two-hop shot to first base, where Guerrero reached for the hold. Hicks’ left foot pinned Guerrero’s bare hand, opening a major gash on his right ring finger that required treatment in the dugout.

Cole would have preferred Guerrero to take the rest of the evening. Instead, the 23-year-old was in the batter’s box the following inning, when Cole located a 98 mph fastball exactly where he wanted it. Lightning flashing in his wrists, Guerrero sent the ball 427 feet into the visitor bullpen for a two-run homer.

“He was so quick on that court,” Cole said.

New York rallied for three runs in the fifth, as Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge hit back-to-back homers and DJ LeMahieu doubled the tying run. This set up a third and final showdown between Cole and Guerrero Jr. – with the count 0-2, Cole fired a 97.5mph fastball he thought Guerrero tried to foul, instead rewarded by a two-base hit to the right-corner.

“It was kind of an emergency swing; he has so much power,” Cole said. “My God, I have so much influence there. Should I throw a strike? Nope.”

A receiver interference error, a double play ball and a George Springer RBI single put the Jays back in the lead in the seventh, leading Guerrero to open the eighth against Loáisiga. Guerrero wasted no time, hammering Loáisiga’s first pitch — a 95.3 mph sinker — into the second deck on the left field line, 443 feet from home plate.

“I wish it was against someone else; I could watch it on TV and not see it live,” Judge said. “That’s the type of player he is. He can pick up a game. The guy is a game changer, and he’s going to be a tough opponent all year.