TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson had watched the videos of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. He saw Edwin Encarnacion do it in person but on Tuesday night it was his turn to enter Rogers Centre's 500 club.
Donaldson became the ninth different Blue Jays player to homer into the fifth deck during Toronto's 6-4 victory over the Reds. Encarnacion had been the last Toronto player to hit one there when he did it against the Orioles on April 21, 2015. San Diego's Alex Dickerson was the last opposition player to do it when he went deep on July 25, 2016.
According to Statcast™, Donaldson's two-run shot off Reds right-hander Asher Wojciechowski was projected to travel 435 feet and left his bat at 109 mph. The fifth deck at Rogers Centre has been reached just 20 times since the building was first opened in 1989.
"Ultimately I thought it was possible, I didn't think it was out of reach," Donaldson said. "But Jose Canseco and those guys are some pretty big guys. I remember Edwin hit one up there. Any time you hit a home run it's nice. It's hard to give a great explanation because there's really nothing that's similar to it that I've experienced."
Donaldson went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in his fourth game since returning from the 10-day disabled list. He appeared in just two rehab games before rejoining the Blue Jays last Friday and because of that, some bumps along the way were expected. Based on Tuesday's results, he might not be too far off his top form.
The three-time All-Star said he stayed at the ballpark until approximately 1 a.m. the night before, going through video with Troy Tulowitzki. The two watched each other's at-bats, evaluated their swings and looked for areas of improvement after both went through lengthy layoffs because of injuries.
"Just trying to get the tempo of the swing back and today it showed up a few times. First at-bat, really just missed a pitch," Donaldson said. "Second at-bat I was able to execute. Third at-bat I executed. Fourth at-bat, I found a barrel but just hit the ball on the ground. For me, ultimately what I look for is how many times I'm able to find a barrel and today was a pretty successful day."
Toronto's power surge did not stop with Donaldson. Jose Bautista followed Donaldson in the fourth inning with a solo shot to left-center field that did not reach the fifth deck but traveled almost as far. According to Statcast™, Bautista's 10th of the year was projected to travel 431 feet and left his bat at 108 mph. It marked the third time this season that the Blue Jays hit back-to-back homers.
Even that was not the end of the scoring in the fourth inning for Toronto. Two batters later, Russell Martin hit yet another 400-plus-foot homer off Wojciechowski. Martin's fifth of the year came with a projected distance of 411 feet and left his bat at 101 mph.
The three home runs in one inning were tied for the second-most in franchise history. Toronto hit four home runs during one inning against the Rangers on Aug. 17, 2001, at Rogers Centre.
"That's kind of who we are," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the four home runs. "Our team is built that way. Especially in this ballpark, in this division, you slug it out. We're starting to get that good feeling again that when we fall behind a little bit, we can strike back quick."