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Blue Jays hit four home runs in rout of Twins

May 20, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Aaron Sanchez tossed seven strong innings and was backed by homers from Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney in a 9-3 win for the Blue Jays that handed the Twins their fifth straight loss on Friday night at Target Field.Sanchez gave up two runs on

MINNEAPOLIS -- Aaron Sanchez tossed seven strong innings and was backed by homers from Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney in a 9-3 win for the Blue Jays that handed the Twins their fifth straight loss on Friday night at Target Field.
Sanchez gave up two runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts to get his fourth win of the year. Left fielder Robbie Grossman, making his Twins debut, homered and drove in all three Minnesota runs.
Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey, who entered with a 1.85 ERA in four starts this year, turned in his worst outing of the season, surrendering six runs on nine hits and a walk over 5 2/3 frames. Duffey has a 14.09 ERA in two career starts against Toronto, but a 2.13 ERA in his other 13 Major League starts.
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"I was missing a lot, especially to the righties with the breaking ball," said Duffey, who fell to 1-3 with a 3.30 ERA. "Instead of knowing what I could do, I was trying to be too fine with some breaking balls. I felt good, but after the fifth I kinda laid an egg. And the rest is history."

Donaldson got Toronto on the board with a two-run blast in the third. The Blue Jays broke the game open with a five-run sixth, capped by Bautista's three-run shot. Jimmy Paredes hit an RBI single with two outs to chase Duffey before Bautista's homer. Saunders added a solo shot off Taylor Rogers in the seventh, while Barney launched a solo blast in the eighth off Michael Tonkin.

"[The starting pitchers] have been keeping us in ballgames all year long," Saunders said. "It's been pretty inconsistent as far as offense goes. We talked about how big of a ballgame that was last night, how big of a win that was. Then to come out here and do what we did tonight, hopefully we'd love it if the floodgates just started opening."

Top of the line: The opportunities were there for the Blue Jays' new-look lineup on Thursday in an extra-inning win. On Friday, they took full advantage, breaking out of an offensive slump in a big way against Duffey. Bautista and Donaldson each had a pair of hits and a home run, and Donaldson came inches away from another homer in a five-run sixth inning, settling for a double. The Blue Jays entered having scored 10 runs total over their previous six games, but posted a crooked number in the sixth inning en route to their highest run total since they scored 12 against the Rangers on May 5. More >

Grossman introduces himself: Grossman, who was called up by the Twins on Wednesday after signing a Minor League deal on Tuesday, laced an RBI double in his first at-bat with the team in the second. The two-out double scored Miguel Sano from first. Grossman added an RBI single in the seventh and homered in the ninth.

"Robbie had a nice night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The first pitch he saw, he smoked it into the corner. He had a really good at-bat when he singled up in the middle. And true to form, his right side is probably his better side, and he got a changeup and pulled it over the fence. It was a nice debut for him."

Carrera flashes the leather: With his team leading by a run in the bottom of the fourth, Blue Jays center fielder Ezequiel Carrera made the defensive play of the game. With one out, Trevor Plouffe sent a line drive into center. Carrera broke in on the ball and dove to rob Plouffe of at least a single, and perhaps more. Sanchez was out of the inning two pitches later when Saunders made a sliding catch of his own on a shallow fly by Jorge Polanco.
"He's got his own highlight reel this year," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He's confident out there, he's aggressive, he's got good speed and he's got good instincts. We can play some defense now, we can do that. Defense is so big. Teams that win play good defense, teams that don't usually don't play very good defense."

Santana makes nice grab: Twins center fielder Danny Santana, who made a great leaping catch to rob Troy Tulowitzki of an extra-base hit on Thursday, made another impressive play on Friday. Russell Martin launched a hard-hit liner to deep center in the seventh, but Santana was able to track it down with a running catch.

"It's been challenging. Our guys are trying to find ways to win games, but it's just not happening. We had a good series in Cleveland, went backwards in Detroit and then the last two nights, we squandered Ervin [Santana's] start and tonight we didn't have enough offense again." -- Molitor, on the Twins, who at 10-31 have the worst record in the Majors
With his three-run blast in the sixth, Bautista now has 12 homers in 19 career games at Target Field. Bautista leads all opposing players in career homers at Target Field.
Blue Jays: Toronto will send left-hander J.A. Happ (5-1, 3.40 ERA) to the mound against the Twins on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET. Happ is looking to rebound from his worst start of the season. Happ allowed eight runs on seven hits and a walk in two innings against the Rays on Monday. It was the most runs Happ has given up in a start since he allowed eight against the Astros on June 13, 2012.
Twins: Left-hander Pat Dean (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will make his first Major League start against the Blue Jays on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Dean has made two appearances out of the bullpen since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on May 7. Dean was 12-11 with a 2.82 ERA in 27 starts for Rochester last season, and he pitched a Triple-A-high 179 innings.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.

Dan Myers is a contributor to and covered the Blue Jays on Friday.