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NYY@TOR: Blue Jays erupt for eight runs in the first

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' offence kicked off the second half with a bang by pounding out a season-high 20 hits on Thursday night.

The club showed no signs of rust following a brief three-day layoff by scoring early and often against its divisional rivals, tying a franchise record with eight first-inning runs en route to a 16-7 victory over the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

"I think the All-Star break kind of refreshed everybody," said right fielder Eric Thames, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. "A lot of guys went home to see their families and kind of got a second wind.

"We were able to rest and sleep all day and get the energy back. I'm happy to see it, because we were swinging the bats well in Cleveland, and we carried it on to the second half."

Thames led the way in that fateful first with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. That frame was an all-around attack, though, one that featured 12 batters, six hits, two walks and an error.

The eight runs were the most scored in one inning by Toronto this season, and it marked the first time since Sept. 26, 2007, at Baltimore that the club put that many runners across home plate in the first.

The Blue Jays have been on the wrong end of those lopsided innings before. There were the late-inning collapses against the Mariners and Indians, and a one-sided series against the Red Sox earlier this year.

That made Thursday's outcome even more enjoyable.

"We were finally on the good side of that," said J.P. Arencibia, who went 1-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. "We've had some innings like that against ourselves this year, and it's part of baseball.

"It's one of those things where you have to roll with it, but you can never be too complacent with this team, as you saw today."

Toronto's offensive outburst in the first came with two outs. Aaron Hill got things started with a two-run single to give the Blue Jays an early advantage. Travis Snider followed two batters later with an RBI single of his own.

Yankees starter Bartolo Colon then appeared on the verge of getting out of the jam after inducing a ground ball by Arencibia. But New York third baseman Eduardo Nunez was handcuffed by an awkward bounce and committed a costly error to load the bases and keep the Blue Jays' inning alive.

Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar responded with a pair of infield singles before Thames delivered the final blow with a two-run ground-rule double over the head of Curtis Granderson in center field.

Colon was removed after that at-bat having allowed eight runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks.

Yankees catcher Russell Martin felt that at least part of the Blue Jays' success at the plate was a result of sign stealing, saying that when Toronto had runners at second base, they would relay information to home plate.

"You move your head one way it's a fastball, you move your head the other way it's a slider," Martin said. "It was pretty blatant.

"It's up to us to catch it and change the signs. I'm not blaming them for anything. ... It's one of those things you don't really talk about, but it's part of baseball. It's always been."

Despite being spotted to an early nine-run lead, starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes struggled to keep the game in check. He got through his first two innings unscathed but pitched into trouble in the third.

Reyes' woes began with a leadoff home run by Andruw Jones. It was Jones' fifth homer of the season and his second against Reyes in as many games. That blast sparked a four-run frame that also included a two-run triple by Granderson.

The 26-year-old Reyes also experienced difficulty in the sixth. He allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base, then allowed yet another home run to Jones. It was the 42nd multihomer game of Jones' career and second of the season against Toronto.

Reyes said that the majority of his problems were related to a lack of command. The left-hander threw 56 of his 80 pitches for strikes but had trouble keeping the ball down in the zone.

"I'm throwing strikes, but it's at the top of the strike zone instead of the bottom," said Reyes, who allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. "When you live up there, you're going to fall into a lot more mistakes than when you're down in the zone. If they do get a good hit, you can tip your cap. But when you're up in the zone, you're frustrated."

Reyes departed with a two-run lead, but the Blue Jays quickly added some insurance by scoring a pair of runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth. Edwin Encarnacion and Thames led the way with three RBIs, and Snider added two.

By the time the game came to end, Toronto had scored a season-high 16 runs and received at least one hit and one run from all nine members of the starting lineup.

It was the type of well-rounded attack that manager John Farrell envisioned when the club recalled Snider from the Minor Leagues prior to the All-Star break to provide his lineup with more pop.

"He has just put himself in a much better position to hit, and yes, it gives us greater balance," Farrell said of Snider, who went 3-for-5 and is now riding a six-game hitting streak. "It allows us to split up a string of right-handers.

"He's doing one heck of a job. ... [He's] playing as we envisioned that he would."

Toronto has now won four consecutive games for the first time since May 27-30.

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