Blue Jays spoil Colon’s night, beat Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Friday night was billed as Bartolo Colon’s night with the Minnesota Twins selling a special “Big Sexy Night” theme package that included a free Colon T-shirt to honor the happy-go-lucky, 44-year-old fan favorite.
The Toronto Blue Jays spoiled Colon’s night and dented Minnesota’s playoffs hopes in the process.
Josh Donaldson and Kevin Pillar each hit solo homers, and J.A. Happ pitched into the seventh inning to propel the Blue Jays to a 4-3 win against the Twins.
“We got something going late, but Bartolo’s always been tough on us,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “His last start in Toronto we thought we hit some balls pretty good and were taking him to the warning track, and there were a lot of balls like that tonight. We couldn’t really square it up or drive it out or off the wall. That’s vintage him. He throws strikes. He makes you beat him by putting the ball in play. He was good again tonight, no doubt.”
Donaldson had three hits and two RBIs as the Blue Jays came out on top in another close game. Toronto has played 17 one-run contests in its last 31 games, going 8-9 in that span.
Happ (9-10) surrendered three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings. Three relievers combined for 2 2/3 hitless innings and Roberto Osuna recorded his 36th save in 46 chances.
“You always want to finish strong,” Happ said. “Right now, like I said, I feel good out there. Just want to finish strong. We’re still competing. Regardless of what the standings say, we still want to win ballgames.”
Colon (6-13) yielded four runs on five hits in six innings.
“Lot of balls in the air,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Colon. “...Sometimes it’s going to be some fly balls that might scare you a little bit, you know, and he’s going to give up some homers, too. That’s just how it works.”
Brian Dozier homered for the Twins, who were 2 1/2 games up on the Los Angeles Angels for the second and final wild-card spot in the American League pending the Angels’ result against the Texas Rangers.
Minnesota had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Donaldson put the Jays ahead for good in the seventh with a two-out single to score Russell Martin. Colon started the inning and walked Pillar before giving up an RBI double to Martin. Reliever Ryan Pressly entered and gave up a single to put runners on first and third for Donaldson.
Colon said he appreciated the Twins honoring him and that the Big Sexy nickname has been trademarked for him by his agent.
“It feels awesome,” Colon said. “It’s awesome to see fans, my coaches and teammates do that for me. I’m very thankful for them. I know my family is very thankful for them. It’s awesome.”
Colon retired the first eight batters he faced and didn’t allow a run until Pillar’s 16th homer leading off the fifth inning.
Catcher Chris Gimenez walked to start the third inning and later scored on Joe Mauer’s sacrifice fly. Byron Buxton continued to torment Toronto when he bunted for a hit to start the fourth. He stole second and scored on Gimenez’s single.
“Pick a side of the plate,” Pillar said of facing Colon. “I was a little upset. He beat me on the first pitch I saw. I was looking fastball in and somehow he beat me. The second time around, I got him.
“It was probably further inside, but I just committed to my plan and picked one side of the plate. He’s a guy who throws a lot of strikes, and you know what he’s throwing. It can be as simple as just looking in or away. Today, I decided to look in.”
Dozier countered Pillar’s homer with his own solo shot, his 31st of the season, in the bottom of the fifth.
Donaldson came right back and hit his own solo homer, his 26th, to lead off the next frame.
NOTES: Minnesota CF Byron Buxton stole his 26th base in the fourth inning. It was the 21st consecutive steal for Buxton without being caught, tied for the third-longest streak in team history with Zoilo Versalles. Buxton is one game behind the record streaks of Matt Lawton and Chuck Knoblauch. ... Toronto OF Jose Bautista is 0 for his last 17 at-bats after going 0-for-5 on Friday. ... Blue Jays INF Darwin Barney was scratched before the game with an illness. OF Steve Pearce missed another game with his back injury. ... The Twins are 27-16 since Aug. 2, a stretch that has propelled them into a wild-card spot. But Minnesota has lost seven games in the AL Central to the Cleveland Indians in that span.