EditorsNote: last quote before notes is Buxton, not Molitor
Colon, Polanco power Twins in rout of Blue Jays
TORONTO — Bartolo Colon made it look easy.
Despite allowing nine hits and failing to record a strikeout in 6 2/3 innings, the 44-year-old held the Toronto Blue Jays to one run as the Minnesota Twins cruised to a 6-1 victory Friday night.
“Outstanding start by Bartolo,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Bartolo spread out some hits along the way but he really made a lot of quality pitches and got us deep into the game.”
Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton each had three hits and two RBIs for the Twins (66-62), who maintained the second wild-card position in the American League with the win.
“The old man (Colon) got us, that’s for sure,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He just picks the plate apart, basically throws some fastballs, occasional sliders, cuts it. He’s been doing it for a long time, totally different from what he used to be. Just shows you, work ahead, hit some spots, let your infielders and outfielders do some work, you can be successful.”
Justin Smoak had a home run among his three hits for the Blue Jays (60-68).
Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (6-10) allowed five runs, eight hits and one walk while striking out seven in six innings.
Dominic Leone replaced Happ for the seventh and pitched around a leadoff single and had two strikeouts.
The Blue Jays had two runners on base in each of the second, fourth and sixth innings, but Colon (4-2) worked out of the jams.
The right-hander was replaced by Alan Busenitz after Smoak’s two-out single in the seventh inning. Jose Bautista grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Toronto’s Aaron Loup overcame a leadoff bunt single by Polanco to complete the eighth.
Taylor Rogers pitched two-thirds of an inning in the eighth, allowing a walk and a single before being replaced by Trevor Hildenberger, who allowed a line drive to deep center field that was caught on a diving play by Buxton for the third out.
“A lot guys can play that position but he’s special,” Molitor said. “The game is still in the balance if it gets over his head there. He shaded him that way but got an outstanding jump and closed on it. Just sheer athleticism.”
“I knew I got a got jump,” Buxton said. “I saw it well, saw it tailing away from me. I knew I had a good chance of getting there and making a play.”
T.J. House made his Blue Jays’ debut in the top of the ninth, allowing three hits, including Buxton’s RBI single, and a walk.
Minnesota’s John Curtiss pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth in his major league debut.
The Twins scored three runs in the third.
Brian Dozier walked with one out and took third on Joe Mauer’s single. Dozier scored on Buxton’s bunt single that was fielded by Happ, who decided he had no play at home from his knees and found no one covering first base.
“I kind of caught myself trying to read how far the guy on third was down the line,” Happ said. “That little hesitation and bobble was the difference.”
Polanco followed with a two-run double.
“I just made a bad pitch on that double, a changeup kind of the middle of the plate,” Happ said. “That’s the one I want back. That’s the difference in the game right there, that double scoring two runs there, just didn’t execute it.”
Smoak hit his 35th homer with two outs in the bottom of the third. He set a club record for homers by a switch-hitter, passing Jose Cruz Jr., who hit 34 in 2001.
Mitch Garver tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Max Kepler in the fourth to restore Minnesota’s three-run lead.
The Twins added a run in the fifth. Mauer doubled, took third on Buxton’s bunt single and scored on Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly.
“It was an all round good game from everybody,” Buxton said. “Everybody had some type of contribution to the win.”
NOTES: Toronto RHP Nick Tepesch was reinstated from the paternity list Friday and then optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. The move opens the possibility of RHP Joe Biagini, who has been starting at Buffalo, making the start Sunday in the series finale against Minnesota. ... RF Jose Bautista played third base Friday, allowing 3B Josh Donaldson to be used as DH. Blue Jays regular DH Kendrys Morales grounded out as a pinch hitter in the sixth. ... Twins RHP Dillon Gee (1-0, 2.84 ERA) will face Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (5-8, 5.07) Saturday afternoon in the second game of the three-game series.