Estrada's pitching, Donaldson's homers lift Jays over Twins 7-2
Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson, left, beats the throw to score on a Justin Smoak hit in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Andres Ybarra, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, September 16, 2017 10:55PM EDT
MINNEAPOLIS -- Marco Estrada pitched eight efficient innings, Josh Donaldson homered twice among his four hits and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2 on Saturday night.
Minnesota's loss clinched the AL Central for the Cleveland Indians and gave teams a chance to gain on the Twins for the final AL wild card. Minnesota entered the day two games ahead of the Angels.
Estrada (9-8) allowed two solo homers and extended his string of allowing three earned runs or fewer to nine of his last 11 outings.
Jose Bautista ended his 0-for-17 skid with three hits and an RBI for Toronto.
Donaldson gave the Blue Jays a lead in the first by sending a first-pitch shot off Adalberto Mejia (4-6) into the second deck in left-centre.
Making his first start since a biceps injury last month sidelined him for 35 games, Mejia seemed to recover after Donaldson's homer and retired eight straight batters. But Donaldson led off the fourth with a single and came around to score on Bautista's single. A batter later, Kendrys Morales drove in Justin Smoak with a single.
Estrada took care of the rest, retiring 12 of his final 15 batters after Eddie Rosario's homer in the fifth, inducing a handful of harmless pop flies. He allowed three hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Matt Dermody pitched a scoreless ninth for Toronto.
The Blue Jays broke it open in the eighth by stringing together four singles and a walk against Trever Hildenberger. Bautista and Morales each had RBIs, and Donaldson scored a run on a throwing error by Brian Dozier to make it 6-1.
Eduardo Escobar led off the eighth with a solo homer, but manager John Gibbons allowed Estrada to finish the inning. Donaldson got the run back with a one-out homer to centre in the ninth.
Twins: Manager Paul Molitor said the plan is keep Miguel Sano (shin) in Minnesota when the team starts a 10-game trip in New York next week. Molitor added it's possible the first baseman may need to go to New York for a personal reason. "It just hasn't been a great week," the manager said of Sano's slow recovery.
Blue Jays: RHP Joe Biagini (3-10) returns to the mound after throwing a career-high eight innings on Tuesday in a 3-2 win against Baltimore.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (10-10) tries to even the four-game series. He last pitched against Toronto on Aug. 27, when he threw 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits in Minnesota's 7-2 victory.