Blue Jays club three homers to deck Royals
TORONTO -- Dioner Navarro, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson each homered while right-hander Marco Estrada tossed 5 2/3 strong innings in the Blue Jays' 5-2 victory over the Royals on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.
All three home runs were charged to Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy, who allowed five runs on six hits and four walks over six innings. It was the first time Duffy surrendered more than four runs since May 11 and it broke a string of four consecutive quality starts.
"You make a mistake and they can hammer you," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Estrada struggled early by allowing two runs during a 28-pitch first inning, but he eventually settled into a groove and pitched into the sixth. He allowed just three hits and didn't walk a batter to go along with three strikeouts. The only downside was that the escalating pitch count resulted in a relatively short night on the mound.
"I think in Seattle, I was rushing, I was maybe overthrowing a little bit because I knew I wasn't hitting my spots, and I think I tried to do a little too much," Estrada said in reference to his previous outing, when he allowed five runs over four innings. "Today, I changed it, I went back to what I've normally done, I guess. Can't go out there overthrowing, especially a guy like myself who doesn't throw that hard to begin with."
Added Yost, "We hit some balls right at guys, but he made good pitches."
Toronto picked up its second consecutive win for the first time since July 19-21. Overall, the club has lost 15 of its last 26 games, but finds itself pushing for the postseason following a series of significant deals this week. Kansas City has lost two in a row following a four-game win streak.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Navarro nails it: The Blue Jays fell behind early, but regained the lead in the second inning on a two-run shot to left by Navarro. According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to travel 372 feet and left his bat at 98 mph. Navarro's third of the season proved to be the early turning point in a game that was decided on the long ball.
"I knew I needed to be aggressive, especially not having played for a little bit, I'm just trying to take advantage of taking the best out of every opportunity I get," Navarro said. "I think it was a big part of the game and solid work by Estrada was the No. 1 thing."
RBI machine: Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales came into the game tied for the lead league in RBIs with 68. And it didn't take him long to add to his total. With two on and two out in the first, Morales stayed on a low sinker and rifled it into the right-center-field gap, scoring Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer.
But for the most part, Royals hitters struggled with Estrada.
"He doesn't throw hard, maybe 87-90, but he doesn't make mistakes," Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar said. "He keeps the ball down low. He pitched good tonight."
Bringer of rain: Donaldson followed up the home runs by Navarro and Martin with a solo shot in the third. It was his 25th of the season and 23 of those have come while playing third base, which is the sixth most by a third baseman in franchise history. Jose Bautista remains the all-time leader for homers by a Blue Jays third baseman with 41 in 2010. Statcast™ projected the latest home run by Donaldson to travel 441 feet.
"Good all-around game, the bats came to life with the three home runs," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's what we do best."
"I've got a bad walk, it gets pointed out many times. It's bad genetics, I can't do anything about that. It has nothing to do with being arrogant." -- Gibbons joked, when asked if he was walking with a little more swagger after this week's trades for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price.
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The Blue Jays have homered in 12 consecutive games since the All-Star break for the first time in franchise history.
Royals: Right-hander Johnny Cueto will make his Royals debut on Friday at 6:07 p.m. CT in the series rematch. With the Reds, he was 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA this year. He's 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA career against the Jays.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Drew Hutchison gets the ball for the second of this four-game set at Rogers Centre on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Hutchison has been much better at home this season with a 2.21 ERA over nine starts compared to a 9.00 ERA in 11 outings on the road.
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