MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins erased an early five-run deficit with a pair of huge innings to power past the Blue Jays, 13-7, on Sunday at Target Field. With the win, Minnesota split the four-game set and increased its lead over the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot to two games.
Minnesota batted around in both the second and fifth innings, pouring in seven and six runs in each frame, respectively. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton hit back-to-back homers in the second, while Buxton added an RBI double later in the inning. Rosario went deep again in the fifth after a grand slam by Joe Mauer. Both Buxton and Mauer finished a triple shy of the cycle.
It proved to be more than enough run support to back Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson, who recovered after surrendering five runs in the first two innings. Gibson retired the final 13 batters he faced before exiting after six innings, during which he allowed three hits and five walks while striking out eight.
"This one in some ways is maybe a little more impressive," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Gibson. "To give us six innings after that start was pretty good for us. We found a way to win one of the bigger [deficits] we faced in the last couple weeks."
Josh Donaldson belted a pair of homers in his first two at-bats against Gibson. The former AL Most Valuable Player notched his fifth multi-homer game of the season and second in as many days. Donaldson, who has 30 dingers this season, became just the second Blue Jays player to hit 30 or more home runs in each of his first three seasons with the club.
Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini took the loss after allowing six runs (four earned) in 1 1/3 innings, while reliever Chris Rowley allowed all six Twins runs in the fifth inning.
"I put them in a tough position for what they want to do," Biagini said. "I don't blame them for taking me out. I wish I would have gotten a chance to stay in, fight through it and limit the damage. But I understand what they're thinking, so I don't blame anybody."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mauer's slam: Mauer delivered the Twins' biggest blow during the six-run fifth with a grand slam off Rowley. Mauer's homer had an exit velocity of 104.7 mph and traveled 398 feet, according to Statcast™. It was his fourth career grand slam and first since Sept. 1, 2012. The Twins have hit four grand slams this season, all of which have come since Aug. 8.
"[Bases-loaded situations] are fun," Mauer said. "You try not to do anything more than you need to. Hitting the home run was great, but I was just trying to get a good pitch. I try not to do too much in those situations. Today it just worked out that way." More >
Donaldson's massive dinger: Donaldson obliterated a fastball from Gibson to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 advantage with one out in the first inning. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's homer traveled 481 feet with an exit velocity of 113.5 mph. It matched his longest homer tracked by Statcast™ (since 2015) and was his hardest-hit homer as well. It also tied for the seventh-longest hit in all of baseball this season.
"Yeah, that was a bomb," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He can do that, though. We've seen him do that. He's a special player." More >
"When I finally got him out, [Molitor] asked if I wanted that ball. I told him I'd like one of the first two, but they are probably in St. Paul." -- Gibson, on allowing two home runs to Donaldson in the Twins' win
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Mauer, 34, is the oldest Twin to hit a grand slam since Molitor hit one at 40 years old on April 3, 1997, vs. Detroit.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Toronto returns to Rogers Centre to start its final homestand of the season on Tuesday with three games against the Royals at 7:07 p.m. ET. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (11-8, 3.08 ERA) starts the first game of the series looking for his first win since Aug. 16. He has lost back-to-back games, including his last start when he allowed two unearned runs over six innings against Baltimore.
Twins: Minnesota begins its final road trip of the season with a three-game set against the Yankees on Monday at 6:05 CT. Ervin Santana (15-7, 3.35 ERA) is slated to start the opener after six shutout frames in his last outing. The veteran right-hander is 6-9 with a 5.78 ERA in 19 career starts against the Yankees. Minnesota enters the series four games behind New York for the top American League Wild Card spot.