‘One of the best hitters in the world’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. battles a gash to hit three home runs

NEW YORK — Already the face of the Toronto Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also looked like a real Maple Leaf on Wednesday night.

Guerrero shrugged off a bloody gash to his right ring finger to hit three homers off the rival Yankees, including two off ace Gerrit Cole, in Toronto’s 6-4 win.

“Hitting from another world,” New York manager Aaron Boone said of Guerrero. “One of the best hitters in the world.”

The American League’s second MVP shot Cole in the first inning, accidentally nailed his hand on a play at first base in the second, then hammered a line homer against Cole in the second inning. the third to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. He doubled Cole in the sixth – prompting the pitcher to pretend to tip his cap to the 23-year-old – then threw a 443-foot first homer against Jonathan Loaisiga in the eighth for a 5-3 lead.

“Have you seen his night? Cole said in his post-game availability when asked about the cap tip. “If you had a cap, you would tip too.”

It was the second three-home run game of Guerrero’s career, tying a career high set on April 27 against Washington.

The Blue Jays took two of the Yankees’ three with the series finale on Thursday. New York’s new roster struggled offensively in that first season at home, even drawing boos from the Yankees faithful.

Guerrero looked set to go in the second inning when his bare throwing hand was accidentally nailed by baserunner Aaron Hicks. Guerrero had to reach to his body for infielder Bo Bichette’s throw and placed his right hand behind the first sack to balance. Hicks stomped on it while running a single down the field.

Guerrero, 23, immediately began waving, then walked towards the Toronto dugout as blood spilled onto his uniform and the turf.

In a show of toughness that will satisfy hockey-obsessed fans in Toronto, Guerrero had his wound bandaged by a coach and ran for first base minutes later.

With a bloody stain on the right thigh of his pants, he struck again at the top of the third and turned Cole’s 98mph fastball into a 427-foot, two-run homer and a 3-0 Blues lead. Jays.

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 him either. Montoyo, in his media availability, also credited Toronto’s coaching staff for setting up the first baseman’s return.

“Other than Vladdy, the coaches were the MVPs tonight,” Montoyo said.

Guerrero received two stitches after the game but said his hand felt fine, although he anticipated pain could set in on Thursday.

“It’s not that bad,” he said.

Guerrero used his right hand for high-fives with base coaches Mark Budzinski and Luis Rivera as he rounded the bases, then cheered vigorously before hitting home plate.

Guerrero’s first homer was almost stolen down the middle by Hicks, who jumped over the wall and briefly had the ball in his glove. He fell when Hicks hit the wall, bounced off something beyond the home run barrier, and fell back into play. A replay confirmed the ball was out.

“I wish it was against someone else,” said New York outfielder Aaron Judge, “so I could have watched it on TV and not seen it live.”

Guerrero has four homers in six games this season after leading the majors with 48 last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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