Stroman stifles Twins after Jays' leadoff homers

Stroman stifles Twins after Jays' leadoff homers

MINNEAPOLIS -- Marcus Stroman limited the Twins to three hits over 7 2/3 strong innings, and he was backed by consecutive homers to open the game from Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson to lift the Blue Jays to a 3-1 win on Sunday at Target Field.

Stroman, who walked two and struck out three, entered the eighth having allowed just one hit. Kurt Suzuki and Danny Santana opened the inning with back-to-back singles, but Stroman was able to get Brian Dozier to ground into a double play. Closer Roberto Osuna came in and induced a fly ball to center on the first pitch to Eduardo Nunez to get out of the inning unscathed. Osuna tossed a scoreless ninth to register his ninth save of the year, and his second four-out save.

"The game kind of shaped up like yesterday, in that we came into the eighth inning having only one hit on the board, but then thought we might get something going there, but it fizzled," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We stayed with the game, but it just wasn't enough offense."

Twins can't finish off another comeback

Stroman's fantastic outing

The Blue Jays scored early against right-hander Phil Hughes, getting three runs in the first inning, keyed by the back-to-back homers from Bautista and Donaldson. Troy Tulowitzki also drove in a run with a double after a one-out walk by Michael Saunders. It helped the Blue Jays to a series win, as they took three of four from the Twins.

Tulo's double plates Saunders

"When you run out your top three power hitters, sometimes what happens in a game, a guy comes out of the bullpen [to start the game] not quite sharp, they haven't had a chance to settle in," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Sometimes, you can capitalize on that."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early offense: It didn't take the Blue Jays long to get on the board against Hughes, with Bautista hitting his 10th homer of the season -- and third in three days -- on the fourth pitch of the game. Three pitches later, it was Donaldson going deep with his 11th homer and second of the series. Two batters later, Saunders drew a walk ahead of Tulowitzki, who followed with an RBI double over the head of Twins left fielder Robbie Grossman and a quick 3-0 lead.

"I definitely had a little bit more motivation to play," said Donaldson, who was ejected in the first inning of the game on Saturday. "I try to go out there and play hard every day. The fact is, I wasn't too happy with how things transpired yesterday, so I definitely wanted my presence to be felt today."

Suzuki gets Twins on the board: After Grossman drew a one-out walk in the second, Oswaldo Arcia doubled on a 1-1 changeup to left to give the Twins two runners in scoring position. It set up an RBI grounder from Suzuki to get Minnesota on the board, but Santana struck out to end the inning and strand Grossman.

Suzuki's RBI grounder

Pillar's diving snag: With two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the fifth inning, Dozier ripped a Stroman fastball toward the gap in left-center field. Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar got a good jump, raced to his right and made a fantastic diving catch, robbing Dozier of extra bases and a sure RBI, while also ending the inning.

Statcast: Pillar's diving catch

"That's what I'm out there to do," Pillar said. "I've been struggling offensively, I just try to go out there to do what I'm on this team to do and make plays and help our pitchers. Off the bat, I thought that ball was going to be in the gap, and I just have a no-give-up attitude, and as I got closer, I went for it. Ended up being a big part of the day." More >

Hughes settles in: After giving up three runs in the first, Hughes was much better, grinding out five scoreless innings to get a quality start. It was a good sign from Hughes, who has been dealing with shoulder fatigue and had looked like he was in for a short outing after his rocky first inning. But he did give up a few hard-hit balls after the first and didn't register a strikeout.

Hughes gets out of trouble

"The first inning was rough, but I felt like I settled in OK," Hughes said. "But when you give up three runs, it's a tall task for our guys to dig out of the hole. Stroman was on his game today, and we couldn't come back from that."

QUOTABLE
"It's obviously a special accomplishment with all the hard work. But it's something where it happens if you play long enough. It'll probably take me 30 years to get 3,000. But it's cool. It's a humbling experience to achieve that." -- Suzuki, on getting career hit No. 1,000 in the eighth inning

Suzuki's 1,000th hit

"I might get him a pair of Jordans or something. Yeah, he's always saving our [rear ends]. He's helping all of us out there each and every day, and we're just thankful to have him out there. Any ball that's remotely close to him he usually comes down with, so that's pretty reassuring, having someone like that out there behind you." -- Stroman, on Pillar's catch to end the fifth

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The back-to-back homers to lead off the game by Bautista and Donaldson were the first time a pair of Blue Jays accomplished the feat since Alex Rios and Frank Catalanotto did it against the Orioles on June 14, 2006.

GIBBONS EJECTED
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected in the top of the fifth inning after voicing his displeasure after Hughes threw a pitch behind Donaldson. It was the fourth time Gibbons has been ejected from a game this season, and the third time since May 15.

Gibbons is ejected in the 5th

"I thought they were gonna chuck [Hughes]," Gibbons said. "A tight pitch, then throws behind him. You never know what's going to happen now-a-days, to tell you the truth. Whether it's warnings, throwing [guys] out or nothing, you really [don't know]." More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Right-hander R.A. Dickey will get the start for Toronto when it opens a three-game road trip at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Dickey is coming off a shaky outing against the Rays on Wednesday, but he was fantastic in his three previous trips to the mound, posting a 1-1 record with a 1.27 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. Dickey hasn't pitched against New York yet this season, but he has been solid in his career at Yankee Stadium, posting a 2.92 ERA there in eight games, including seven starts.

Twins: The Twins host the Royals for a three-game series starting Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Target Field. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.74 ERA) starts for Minnesota, and is looking for his first win since April 21. He had a 3.25 ERA in April, but he has a 6.65 ERA in May.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.