Donaldson helps Blue Jays hold off Twins
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays found their offense Saturday afternoon.
They had 13 hits in a game for the first time since Aug. 1 and scored at least 10 runs for the first time since July 30.
It was barely enough as they held on to defeat the Minnesota Twins 10-9 after allowing six runs in the final two innings.
“You give up 10, it makes it tough,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We were on the wrong side of a lot of things that happened, particularly early in the game. It was too little, too late at the end.”
“When we get big crowds like that (45,591) we like to entertain them,” a relieved Blue Jays manager John Gibbons quipped.
Josh Donaldson, who had three hits and three RBIs, started a six-run fifth inning for Toronto (61-68) with a two-run homer. Kendrys Morales added a solo shot in the second inning, his 22nd homer of the season.
Max Kepler hit his second career grand slam for Minnesota (66-63). Eduardo Escobar added a two-run homer for the Twins and Joe Mauer had three hits.
Toronto’s Roberto Osuna allowed two unearned runs in the ninth to pick up his 34th save.
Pinch-hitter Zack Granite led off the ninth with a single. First baseman Justin Smoak committed a two-base error on Escobar’s grounder, and Brian Dozier hit an RBI single. Mauer bounced back to Osuna, who made an athletic move to start a double play as a run scored. But the game ended when Jorge Polanco grounded out.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada (6-8) allowed five hits, one walk and three runs while striking out five in six innings.
“Obviously, the offense showed up today and scored a bunch of runs,” Estrada said. “We played a good game today. It almost fell apart, but I’m glad we pulled it off.”
He praised catcher Raffy Lopez, who not only called a good game but had two hits and two RBIs.
“I’m not a guy that throws 100, so I’ve kind of got to use every pitch I have,” Estrada said. “Lopez did a great job today calling the game. I kind of mixed everything. I threw every pitch. I’ve been in outings where I basically don’t use anything but a fastball and changeup, and today we used all four pitches and I’m glad he called them.”
Twins starter Dillon Gee (1-1) allowed seven hits, one walk and four runs while striking out five in four-plus innings.
“The command wasn’t there,” Gee said. “I didn’t really have command of the secondary pitches as well. I felt like my mechanics got a little off. The changeup just wasn’t there today. That had been a good pitch for me in the past.”
The Blue Jays loaded the bases on three singles, including a bunt hit by Donaldson, with none out in the third but scored only once on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista to take a 2-0 lead.
Escobar tied the score with his 12th homer of the season in the fifth, a blast to right that came two batters after a single by Kennys Vargas.
The Blue Jays scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth to lead 8-2.
Donaldson hit his 23rd homer of the season, which also scored Ezequiel Carrera, who led off the fifth with an infield single.
“Really the pitch I just wish I had back was the one to Donaldson in the fifth,” Gee said. “We were trying to go in, but, looking back, I just think that was the wrong pitch choice for me. I shook to it so it’s on me, for sure. I wish I would have done something different.”
“I put a pretty good swing on it,” Donaldson said. “I’ve been getting pounded in pretty much the last five or six games. It was nice to make somewhat of an adjustment and get the barrel on the ball.”
Tyler Duffey replaced Gee and allowed a walk, three straight singles, including an RBI hit by Kevin Pillar, and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Goins.
Ryan Pressly replaced Duffey and allowed a two-run single to Lopez.
The Twins scored once in the sixth when Mauer singled, Polanco doubled and Eddie Rosario hit a sacrifice fly.
Toronto’s Tim Mayza gave up a double and a single in the eighth before being replaced by Ryan Tepera with two outs. Tepera hit his first batter, Byron Buxton, to load the bases for Kepler, who hit his 17th homer of the season to cut the lead to 8-7.
Minnesota’s John Curtiss, who made his major league debut Friday, walked Carrera to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Carrera stole second, took third on a throwing error by a catcher Mitch Garver and scored on Donaldson’s bloop double down the right-field line.
Donaldson took third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. After Bautista walked, Trevor Hildenberger replaced Curtiss and finished the inning with two strikeouts.
“(Donaldson) is a very good baserunner,” Gibbons said. “He’s got great instincts. He’s just got a feel of the whole game. He’s got a complete game, not everybody has that, but he does.”
NOTES: Toronto RHP Joe Biagini (3-8, 5.11 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday to start the finale of the three-game series with Minnesota. He was 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in four starts at Buffalo. Biagini is 2-7 with a 5.60 ERA in 11 starts with Toronto this season and is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 26 relief outings. He will face Twins RHP Kyle Gibson (7-10, 5.76). ... The Twins ended a seven-game losing streak at the Rogers Centre with their win in the series opener on Friday.