Blue Jays make Target Field look like Fenway with "Wall Ball" barrage

Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

MINNEAPOLIS _ Before we start the proceedings you might need a little perspective:

Chicago White Sox Chris Sale has nine wins.

The Minnesota Twins are stuck on 10 wins ... 41 games into the season.

The good news for the Twins is Sale does not start again until Tuesday.

As for the bad news ...

Well, let’s start with the fact that the Blue Jays are still in town for two more days. Whether it is the new lineup, the woeful Twins pitching or listening to boisterous cheers of their fans who didn’t mind driving anywhere from 8-to-12 hours from Manitoba and Saskatchewan ... it would appear that the Jays bats are back in business.

They pounded out 14 hits on the way to a 9-3 win over the Twins before 29,316 fans at Target Field Friday night. It was the Jays third highest run total this season.

Will they hang up a sign “Appearing One Night Only” or this show will be held over remains to be seen. An indication will come this afternoon when they face Pat Dean in his first major-league start.

The win was the Jays second in as many nights and moves them to two games within .500. 

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez allowed a run in the second and another in the seventh as he won his fourth game thanks to home runs from Jose Bautista, which broke the game open, Josh Donaldson, who travelled the farthest, left-handed hitting Michael Saunders off a lefty and Darwin Barney, the Jays third second baseman of the night.   As Buck Rodgers used to say, they just didn’t hit on this night, they HIT.

Six of the 14 hits were for extra bases.

And seven going off the green outfield walls or as they are known: Wall Balls.  

ONE MORE FOR SANCHEZ: Sanchez allowed eight hits and only two runs his ERA dropping from 3.29 to 3.20. He fanned seven and did not walk a man for the first time since his initial start this season. Sanchez has now worked 59 innings second to only Marcus Stroman (61 2/3 innings) on the staff ... For Sanchez it was the sixth time this season he has pitched seven innings ... He has allowed three runs or less in seven of his nine starts.

HE WHO BATS FIRST SHALL DRIVE IN RUNS: In Game 2 leading off Bautista hit a three-run homer.

Who says there are not any RBI chances batting lead-off. 

“You only hit lead off once ... to start the game,” said Edwin Encarnacion.

Sometimes you have to change, it’s not about me, it’s not about my RBI totals,” Bautista said. “Who cares if I drive in 146 runs and we don’t win? Sometimes you have to change things.”

Is Twins pitching a fair barometer?

“It doesn’t matter who is on the mound,” Bautista said. “You still have to execute.”  

WALL BALLS: This used to be a stat kept only at Fenway Park and it was used in drives off the Green Monster. The Jays Wall Balls (drives either over or all the wall) included:

_ Barney going second deck on a 1-0 pitch from Michael Tonkin, the eighth-inning homer travelling 390 feet.  

_ Saunders hitting a 1-2 pitch 392 feet over the right field wall from lefty Taylor Rogers in the seventh for a solo shot. Rogers is from Littleton, Col. and not part of the Rogers Communications empire.

_ Donaldson doubled off the right field wall on a 2-2 pitch from Trevor May in the sixth.

_ Bautista greeted May one batter before Donaldson with a three-run homer 388 feet to left centre giving the Jays a 7-1 lead and breaking the game open. He hit a 95 mph fastball. 

_ Troy Tulowitzki doubled to centre on a 2-1 from starter Tyler Duffey.

_ Donaldson wins the Drive of the Night contact as his blast carried the left field wall, the first deck and came to land in the back of Section 231 in an area aptly known as Home Run Porch. Donaldson’s 10th homer came on a 3-2 pitch and travelled 430, or almost half way to the Manitoba border. The drive gave the Jays a 2-1 lead. 

_ Justin Smoak singled off the wall in right in the second inning.       

IN GAME: Ezequiel Carrera started in centre ahead of Kevin Pillar and made like Batman to Pillar’s Superman. Carrera dove for a Trevor Plouffe bid in the fourth. Carrera is very good at diving and catching the ball, but what he did Friday was different -- he held on after he hit the ground ...

Tulowitzki continued to impress in the field stealing a base hit from Joe Mauer in the first and doing a two step around second to hit the base in stride and turn Brian Dozier’s grounder into an inning-ending double play ... Bautista and Saunders each had three hits, while Donaldson, Smoak and Tulowitzki had a pair apiece ... Drew Storen had a scoreless inning lowering his ERA to 7.80. Chad Girodo allowed a ninth inning homer to Robbie Grossman, his first.    

THREE FOR TWO: Manager John Gibbons used three second baseman in the same game and not because of an injury. He started Ryan Goins, who was hitless in two at-bats. After Duffey hit Carrera in the foot with a 1-2 knuckle curve, the Jays had runners at first and second with a 3-1 lead and two out in the sixth. Gibbons went to Jimmy Paredes as a pinch hitter and the good-hit, so-so field infielder lined a 1-2 pitch to centre scoring Tulowitzki, who had already knocked in Saunders. 

Paul Molitor hooked Duffey for May and Bautista hit his fourth pitch for his eighth homer. 

Then, Barney took over in the field and contributed a solo homer. So combined the three second baseman were 2-for-4 with two RBIs.