Bautista, Blue Jays hammer Twins 9-3
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The homer-happy Toronto Blue Jays lost their power strokes during a recent five-game losing streak.
A four-game series against Minnesota Twins pitching is just what they needed to get back in the groove.
Jose Bautista hit a three-run home run to break open the game in the sixth inning and the Blue Jays slugged their way to a 9-3 victory over the Twins on Friday night.
Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney also went deep for Toronto. Aaron Sanchez (4-1) gave up two runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings to give the Blue Jays their second straight win after a five-game losing streak.
''I don't think we'll ever through a drought where we're not driving the ball,'' said Saunders, who had three hits and two RBIs. ''We just need those runners on when we do get those hits.''
Robbie Grossman went 3 for 4 with a homer, a double and three RBIs in his first game for the Twins, who have lost five straight games and are an MLB-worst 10-31 this season. Tyler Duffey (1-3) gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
''We're trying to find ways the best we can,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''It's challenging. These guys are hungry to win games, and it's just not happening.''
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons returned from a three-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Texas Rangers and Troy Tulowitzki had a double among his two hits and an RBI.
A vocal contingent of blue-clad Jays fans dominated Target Field on a picture perfect evening, never getting louder than when Bautista sent a drive into the left field seats to cap Toronto's five-run sixth.
It was Bautista's 12th home run at Target Field, the most by any visiting player at this ballpark.
Saunders hit a solo shot in the seventh, continuing a torrid streak over the last 10 games.
Donaldson also had a double and two RBIs while hearing chants of ''MVP! MVP!''
''We're not worried about these hitters,'' Sanchez said. ''We know what they're capable of doing and they showed it tonight. Hopefully they can continue this and keep that groove going.''
It was yet another miserable night for the Twins, who haven't gotten quality pitching in the starting rotation or the bullpen and have struggled mightily to score runs.
Molitor has been juggling the batting order in an effort to light a spark and gave second baseman Brian Dozier his first career night as a designated hitter. But Dozier went 0 for 4 and the Twins struck out eight times to go quietly yet again.
Miguel Sano had two hits, the only other Twins player to have multiple hits in the game.
The key moment in the game came with two on and two out in the sixth. Gibbons lifted light-hitting second baseman Ryan Goins for Jimmy Paredes, who came through with an RBI single to make it 4-1. Bautista followed with his homer to put the game out of reach.
''We were down to 12 outs and we had a couple guys on,'' Gibbons said. ''That's tough to do there, two-out knocks. … Paredes is really swinging the bat good for us so I thought it was the proper time.''
The Blue Jays had a pair of web gems in the fourth inning. Center fielder Ezequiel Carrera sprinted in to make a diving catch on a looping flare from Sano and Saunders made a nifty sliding catch in left field to take a hit away from Jorge Polanco.
''We can play some defense,'' Gibbons said. ''Defense is so big. Teams that win play good defense.''
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (shoulder) had three hits in his first rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday.
Twins: Prized prospect Byron Buxton has not played for Triple-A Rochester since May 14 because of back spasms. GM Terry Ryan said he would be back in the lineup on Saturday.
The Twins send LHP Pat Dean (0-1, 4.50) to the mound for Game 3 of the four-game series against LHP J.A. Happ (5-1, 3.40).