Blue Jays outmuscle Twins in 4th straight win

Blue Jays outmuscle Twins in 4th straight win

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion each homered while the Blue Jays' bullpen tossed four scoreless innings to overcome another rough outing by Drew Hutchison in a 9-7 win over the Twins on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

With the victory, Toronto moved two games ahead of Minnesota in the standings for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays have won four games in a row and seven of their last eight as the Twins continued to struggle with four straight losses and a 2-9 record dating back to July 25.

Donaldson's two-run blast

Right-hander Tyler Duffey took the loss for Minnesota after allowing six runs over two innings in his Major League debut. Twins right-hander J.R. Graham also was roughed up for three runs over 2 1/3 innings of relief, which included a three-run shot by Encarnacion.

Duffey gets first Major League K

Hutchison earned the victory for Toronto despite allowing seven runs over five innings. Four of the runs were unearned but he once again had some trouble keeping the ball down in the zone. Another strong night by the offense helped bail him out as did four scoreless innings from Liam Hendriks, Brett Cecil, Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, who became the 13th pitcher in MLB history to record a save against all 30 teams.

Must C: Hawkins makes history

Bautista Bomb: Toronto was trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the second inning until Bautista unloaded on a pitch from Duffey and sent it over the wall in left field for a grand slam. It was Bautista's 24th homer of the season and the fifth grand slam of his career. That gave Toronto a 6-3 lead and it was the 49th time this year the Blue Jays scored at least six runs in a game, which leads the Major Leagues. More >

"The situation for me doesn't change in that moment," Bautista said. "If anything, I feel more confident because I know the pitcher can't walk me, he can't pitch around me and he has nowhere to go but throw something in the zone."

Bautista's grand slam

Sano-doubter: Sano helped the Twins get back into the game with a mammoth two-run blast off Hutchison in the fifth inning. It was the fifth career homer for the young slugger. The two-run blast capped a four-run inning for the Twins, as Joe Mauer also had a two-run single with two outs.

"He had a really good at-bat on the home run after the big hit from Joe," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He didn't overswing when he fell behind and then worked it to 3-2 like he seems to do every other at-bat. And we were all kinda waiting for that. He's hit some homers but that might've been the hardest. It was almost as loud as their guys' [home runs]."

The Edwing: Encarnacion continued his recent hot streak with a three-run shot to left field in the fourth inning which at the time gave Toronto a comfortable 9-3 lead. According to Statcast™, Encarnacion's 20th homer of the season was projected to land 462 feet from home plate and it left his bat at 111 mph. That also allowed Encarnacion to become the sixth player in franchise history to hit at least 20 home runs in six seasons while wearing a Toronto uniform.

"Our offense was on fire with the big home runs," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "A nice win, not an easy win, but a nice win."

Encarnacion's three-run shot

Twins strike early, but not late: After scoring just five combined runs over their previous seven games, the Twins broke out early against Hutchison in the first. Sano dropped in an RBI single before Trevor Plouffe delivered a two-run double. The Twins had a chance with two runners in scoring position in the ninth against Hawkins, but Aaron Hicks popped out and Brian Dozier lined out to left to end the game.

Plouffe's two-run double

"We had a couple chances to get a base hit and extend the game, but we gave up nine runs and as much as we fought we came up short," Molitor said. "You applaud the guys for staying in the game for nine innings but you have to deal with the fact you came up short again."

"We're just going to keep working and try to grind it out. We've been fighting, and that hasn't changed, but we're just ready for it to turn. And I know it will turn. Hopefully it's tomorrow." -- Mauer on the Twins dropping four straight

Mauer's two-run single

"I had never thought about it until yesterday. [Mark] Lowe said something to me about it, making a joke in the bullpen. I'm like, 'Really? Well, I probably won't have a chance to get that.' And then when [pitching coach Pete] Walker told me I had a chance, that I was closing tonight, I'm like, 'Oh, OK, cool.' And the game started to unfold, opportunity presented itself." -- Hawkins on becoming the 13th player in MLB history to record a save against all 30 teams

Donaldson's 23-game hit streak against the Twins is tied for the third longest since the Twins moved from Washington in 1961.

Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson starts the series finale for the Twins on Thursday at 6:07 p.m. CT. Gibson is coming off a strong start against the Mariners, when he gave up two runs over seven innings in a no-decision.

Blue Jays: Left-hander Mark Buehrle will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out a four-game series against the Twins at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Buehrle has surrendered three earned runs or less in 11 consecutive starts and has a 1.97 ERA over that same span of games.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.