TORONTO -- Bartolo Colon and Byron Buxton make an unlikely pair with one being the oldest player in baseball and the other being arguably the fastest, but the Twins' duo combined to open Players Weekend with a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday.Minnesota chipped away
TORONTO -- Bartolo Colon and Byron Buxton make an unlikely pair with one being the oldest player in baseball and the other being arguably the fastest, but the Twins' duo combined to open Players Weekend with a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday.
Minnesota chipped away at the Blue Jays with runs scoring on a bunt single from Buxton and two sacrifice flies, but the approach was consistent and effective. With the win, the Twins maintained their hold on the second American League Wild Card spot atop a very crowded race.
"It was a fun game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was a pretty complete game as far as an outstanding start by Bartolo, the bullpen did its job, and we made good defensive plays."
Colon, who is wearing "Morales" to honor his late mother, Adriana, managed to scatter nine hits over 6 2/3 innings and limit the damage to just one run. He didn't strike out a single batter, but only issued one walk and avoided the big blow. The 44-year-old right-hander even had a smile and pat on the back for Justin Smoak, who ended Colon's night with an RBI single in the seventh after hitting his 35th home run of the season earlier in the game.
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"Thing is, when he was with Seattle, he couldn't hit me, but once he got traded here to Toronto he just got on fire against me," Colon said through an interpreter when asked about the exchange. "I just went up to him and said, 'Hey, are you trying to kill me?' No, it's good for him. It's battles you have with hitters."
Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ didn't allow a great deal of hard contact, but "Happer" was still tagged with five earned runs on eight hits over his six innings. The left-hander struck out seven batters while issuing just one walk over his 100 pitches.
"I think that the bottom line is all that matters is we lost the game. I don't want to sit here all the time and tell you guys I feel good about it because it's frustrating to give up five runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blazing 'Buck' takes flight: Buxton got it done with the glove in the bottom of the eighth, robbing the Blue Jays of what would have been extra bases and potentially two runs. With Ryan Goins and Miguel Montero on base, Rob Refsnyder launched a liner to center field at 105.7 mph with a hit probability of 72 percent, according to Statcast™. Buxton broke back and flashed his incredible speed to track it down, then leaped into the air for the diving catch to end the inning.
"Just sheer athleticism," Molitor said. More >
Mo Mo's opportunity: The Blue Jays were aggressive in the bottom of the sixth as they pinch-hit Kendrys Morales for Darwin Barney with two on and two out. Montero and Goins had both reached on singles, but Colon forced Morales to ground out to second base to end the threat.
"It means a lot. I talked to my dad a few days back and I told him I was going to wear "Morales." He got a little mad. But I said, 'Don't worry. It's just one game.'" -- Bartolo Colon on wearing his late mother's last name on Players Weekend
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his 35th home run of the season, Smoak set a new Blue Jays record for home runs by a switch-hitter in a single season. "Moakey" passes Jose Cruz, who hit 34 with the Blue Jays in 2001.
"The one today I wasn't aware of," Smoak said after the game. "Still have a month left, and I feel like that's what's kind of kept me going all year. I just try to keep my head down, keep going and look up at the end of the year and see what happened." More >
Twins: Dillon Gee (1-0, 2.84 ERA), otherwise known as "G Money" during Players Weekend, will look to solidify his newfound spot in Minnesota's starting rotation Saturday at 12:07 p.m. CT. In his last start, he held the White Sox to one run over six innings to get the nod as the Twins' fifth starter over Tim Melville.
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (5-8, 5.07 ERA), who will go by "Estradabien" this weekend, will start Saturday at 1:07 p.m. ET. The right-hander has turned a corner over the past month and is coming off a six-inning, three-run performance against the Cubs his last time out.
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Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto and covered the Blue Jays on Friday.
Nick Patch is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Twins on Friday.