TORONTO — Joey Gallo was back in the lineup for the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday after missing the previous three games with tightness in his left groin and he continued to look as if he might be coming around at the plate.
Gallo provided the Yankees’ only offense of the night, sending a homer to the opposite field on the first pitch he saw.
The third-inning shot, off Toronto lefty Yusei Kikuchi, tied the score at 1-1. Gallo also drew a two-out walk in the top of the ninth to load the bases as the Yankees were trying to rally against Jordan Romano.
“He had a really good swing to start things off and a good [at-bat] there that set the stage off Romano, who’s tough on lefties,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “He gave us a chance. I like that he was aggressive on 3-0 [against Romano]. It was good to have him back in the mix.”
Boone said Gallo could have played Tuesday, given how he did in strength-and-conditioning tests, but the Yankees opted to give him an extra day.
The Yankees also could have taken advantage of the day off Thursday to give Gallo extra time. Gallo, however, was looking to build on the bit of success he had prior to leaving the game in Kansas City on Saturday, when he initially suffered the injury after breaking towards second on a stolen base attempt that was wiped out by a foul ball.
Gallo singled twice in that game before the injury and entered Wednesday having gone 6-for-20 with a double and his first two homers and three RBIs of the season in his previous seven games to boost his OPS from .356 to .570.
The homer Wednesday was Gallo’s third of the season — all of them in his last six games.
The Yankees’ bullpen threw four more shutout innings to extend its scoreless streak to 21 innings.
Michael King, who has been arguably the top reliever in the game, delivered three more masterful innings and Clay Holmes tossed a scoreless eighth to give the Yankees a chance in the ninth.
Overall, it has been another good start for the pen.
They brought in new arms such as Miguel Castro and have gotten continued success from pitchers they discovered last season, Holmes, Lucas Luetge and Wandy Peralta, as well as old standbys King, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga.
Boone credited the front office, scouts and analytic department for bringing in the right pitchers and the coaching staff for “maximizing their potential.”
“For the most part, the biggest thing is the players themselves,’’ Boone said. “They’ve been pliable and been able to buy into things.”
Aaron Judge isn’t the only slugger on a hot stretch.
Giancarlo Stanton extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single. He’s 13-for-35 with four runs, three homers, eight RBIs and four walks during the span.
Stanton had just two homers in his first 18 games before this streak.
Like Judge, Stanton has been able to largely stay healthy the last two seasons.
“They’re continuing to evolve and know who they are,’’ Boone said of Stanton and Judge. “You get better out of necessity and learn how to take care and prepare yourself.”
Josh Donaldson has an eight-game hitting streak with three doubles, as well as five walks, in the stretch.
One AL scout who has watched Donaldson throughout the first month of the season said he has looked a step slow at times this year, but expects the 36-year-old to get better as the season progresses.
“They’ve been doing a good job of keeping their guys healthy, so he should benefit from that,’’ the scout said.