TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson has been saying in recent days that he felt "close" to breaking out at the plate. Turns out, he wasn't kidding.
Donaldson had his best game of the season in Toronto's 7-5 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night. He finished 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs, a double and five RBIs in an overall dominating performance.
The reigning American League Most Valuable Player essentially took over the game and single-handedly led the Blue Jays to a win in the series home opener. For good measure, he also threw in a timely snag at third base, which helped change the outcome of the game as well.
"I know how my body is moving when it's right, and honestly, the entire year, I haven't felt right," Donaldson said. "I've been kind of grinding, trying to get there, trying to get there and maybe at some points trying to do too much at times. A couple of days ago, I was starting to feel it. I was kind of getting excited about it."
Donaldson nearly became the third player in franchise history to record a cycle -- Kelly Gruber and Jeff Frye both did it -- but ultimately fell a triple short. In the end, that didn't really matter, because Donaldson instead picked up the seventh multihomer game and third five-RBI game of his career.
The All-Star third baseman hasn't quite looked like himself this year, but there have been a lot of positive signs lately. Donaldson had just one home this month until May 20, but since then, he has four. He appears to be turning a corner, and if that happens, then it could spell trouble for the rest of the AL.
The production on Friday began in the first with a solo homer to right. Donaldson added an RBI double in the third, an infield RBI single in the fourth and then delivered the decisive blow in the eighth inning with a two-run shot to right, which broke a 5-5 tie.
"The story of this one was being able to contain Donaldson," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Big night for him, and he's been a very difficult hitter for Joe [Kelly] over the course of the time since he's come over to the American League."
The biggest turning point of all might have come in the top of the fourth, and Donaldson once again played a pivotal role. Boston had the bases loaded with one out when Marco Hernandez hit a low sinking liner to third base. Donaldson made a quick grab and then fired to second base to record the inning-ending double play.
The Red Sox had tied the game at 2 prior to the Hernandez at-bat, and if the inning continued, the game could have played out a lot different. Donaldson was having none of that.
"He's a two-way player," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He takes a lot of pride in that, too ... He wants to be just as good defensively as he is offensively. He's been known to make some big plays, too. It's not always a hit that helps us win, it's the defense, too."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. 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.