Trying to spark an offense that hasn’t met its immense expectations, the Toronto Blue Jays stacked the top of their lineup the past four games with their three main power threats.
Their performance Sunday demonstrated what the Blue Jays are trying to accomplish.
Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson started the game with back-to-back home runs off Phil Hughes in a three-run first inning, and Marcus Stroman bounced back from his worst major league start to lead the Blue Jays over the Minnesota Twins 3-1.
Bautista homered on the fourth pitch from Hughes (1-7), his 14th home run in 21 career games at Target Field. Donaldson, ejected in the first inning Saturday, connected three pitches later for his 11th home run, a 425-foot drive to straightaway center field.
Troy Tulowitzki added an RBI double later in the inning.
”I’ve seen it many times, different guys any given night come out of that bullpen not quite sharp,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ”They haven’t had a chance to settle in; sometimes you can capitalize on that.”
Stroman (5-1) allowed one run and three hits in 7 2/3 innings, one start after giving up career-highs of seven runs and 13 hits in a loss to Tampa Bay. Roberto Osuna got four straight outs for his ninth save in 10 chances.
Hughes, who leads the major leagues in losses, allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. The right-hander left his previous start after 75 pitches, complaining of fatigue in his pitching shoulder. Hughes said he felt fine Sunday.
”The first inning was rough,” Hughes said. ”I felt like I settled in OK. Giving up three runs, it’s a tall task for our guys to dig our way out of a hole.”
Bautista homered for the third straight game and has the most homers at Target Field among visiting players. Donaldson stared at the Twins’ dugout as he crossed home plate on his homer. ”Yeah, I definitely had a little bit more motivation to go out there and play,” Donaldson said. ”I try to go out there and play hard every day. Fact is, I wasn’t too happy with how things transpired yesterday, so I definitely wanted my presence to be felt today.”
Kurt Suzuki hit an RBI groundout in the second after Oswaldo Arcia’s double put runners at second and third, starting a stretch in which Stroman retired 17 of 18 batters.