Win or lose Blue Jays are plenty entertaining
By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
MINNEAPOLIS _ We’re not sure how many games Your Toronto Blue Jays are going to win this season.
Or where they will finish.
We are 100% sure they are going to be entertaining.
The last-place Blue Jays celebrated the one week anniversary of Sunday afternoon of what looked like a WWE main event -- Anger in Arlington -- as the road show closed in Minnesota with tempers (spirits, angst and baseballs) running high in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Twins before 33,421 fans.
The Jays took three of four games, have Monday off and open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium two games below .500.
The Sunday script contained: Josh Donaldson, ejected after four pitches Saturday, hitting the third pitch from Phil Hughes 425 feet to straightaway centre, looking into the Twins dugout, being buzzed twice leading to manager John Gibbons’ ejection, as well as Marcus Stroman and Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe chirping each other.
“I have a lot of respect for Josh Donaldson,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, former Blue Jays DH. “Sometimes in baseball things get personal and that’s what happened here the past two days.”
The thunder-thunder-thunder revamped lineup personally got the Jays off to a good start:
Jose Bautista led off hitting a line drive homer to left on a 2-1 pitch and Donaldson followed with his blast. The back to back homers to start the game were the first since June 14, 2006 -- Alex Rios and Frank Catalanotto off Rodrigo Lopez -- in a 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. For Bautista it was his 14th home run in 21 career games at Target Field.
One out later Hughes walked Michael Saunders, who scored on a Troy Tulowitzki double to left centre as the Jays led 3-0 after 17 pitches.
After that Hughes settled down -- aside from the two-pitches to Donaldson -- allowing four hits and a walk in six innings.
Marcus Stroman bounced back from his worst major league start (seven runs, 13 hits against Tampa Bay) pitching 7 2/3 innings allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts, his sixth outing going seven or more innings.
Stroman had a man on first and two out in the fifth when Kevin Pillar ranged far to his right to make a diving grab off the bat of Brian Dozier, prompting Gibbons to say: “It doesn’t shock you any more — you come to expect it.”
“I thought the ball was in the gap,” Pillar told reporters “it wound up being a big part of the game. The wind was tricky today, constantly changing.”
Stroman walked off the field and patted his uniform a tribute to the fans “making it seem like a home game,” on his first visit to Minnesota.
LOSE FOUR: The Jays lost Saturday when allowing four runs and it was the 20th time this season they have allowed 20 or more runs. Ah, they are now 0-20 in games they have allowed four runs. No more 8-1 and 9-2 wins. The last team to fare so poorly allowing four runs was the 2013 Chicago Cubs, who started out 0-25. Those Cubs went 66-96 (.407 win mark) games finishing 31 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals. The 1981 Jays were 0-21 when they went 37-69 (.349) in the strike-shortened season. Not a good sign.
IN GAME: Roberto Osuna then came on to get a four out save, his ninth ... The Twins threatened in the eighth when Kurt Suzuki singled (the 1,000th hit of his career) and Danny Santana reached on an infield single. Asked to bunt, Brian Dozier failed and then bounced to third where Donaldson stepped on third and threw to first for the rally-killing double play ... Oswaldo Arcia doubled in Robbie Grossman, who had walked in the second to cut the Jays lead to 3-1 in the third ...
Gibbons is like a lot like former starter Josh Towers -- he can’t go nine. He was ejected last Sunday in Arlington for arguing balls and strikes, was ejected Monday for the same reason, was suspended for three games for coming back on the field against the Rangers, worked Friday and Saturday and was given the heave ho Sunday.
STRANGE TIMES: In his 27 years in the majors as a player, coach or manager, Hall of Famer Molitor never had a start like this. Molitor’s Twins began the season 10-30 after Friday’s extra-inning loss to the Jays. His previous worst start as a player was 15-25 with the 1997 Twins as a player. Serving as a hitting coach with the 2004 Seattle Mariners wasn’t a lot of laughs either as they started 14-26.