By Jeffrey Flanagan and Alykhan Ravjiani
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' offense showed no signs of slowing down on Tuesday night -- pounding out 13 hits, including four home runs -- in an 8-3 series-clinching win over the Royals at Rogers Centre.
Josh Donaldson picked up three hits including a pair of solo home runs, while Troy Tulowitzki belted a three-run jack to help the Blue Jays win their fourth consecutive game and improve to a season-high four games above .500 at home. The victory, combined with Boston's 7-2 loss to the Rangers, gave Toronto sole possession of second place in the American League East for the first time since April 19.
"We're on a nice little roll right now, there's no question about that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You can see up and down the lineup, guys are doing a good job. That's what happens when everyone's swinging it well at one time."
Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey earned his first home victory of the season, throwing seven innings of two-run ball in a pitching rematch of Game 4 in last season's AL Championship Series. Dickey entered the night 0-6 at Rogers Centre, but he gave up just four hits, while striking out eight. The 41-year-old's lone blemish was a two-run homer by Cheslor Cuthbert in the fourth.
"It's as good as we've ever seen it," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Dickey's knuckleball. "It was really dancing."
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed, saying, "It seemed like the velocity of it was up and he was able to control it really well, putting it off the plate when he wanted to. It was tough."
It was a night to forget for Royals starter Chris Young, who was pulled with one out in the third inning. Young surrendered all four Toronto homers to raise his Major League-leading total to 26. The 37-year-old has given up at least one home run in all 13 starts this season, tying him for the longest streak of starts with a home run allowed in Royals franchise history.
"I feel the same as I did last year," Young said. "That's the hardest part of this. Early this season I had some forearm stuff. But since I have been back I feel good. The results aren't there.
"It's a frustrating feeling. I feel like I'm letting the team down. It's horrible."
Young is scheduled to start again on Sunday, but Yost said the Royals will evaluate that spot over the next couple of days.
"We always do evaluate, yes," Yost said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rainmaker: Donaldson was named an AL All-Star reserve on Tuesday night and showed off his patented power stroke with a pair of long solo homers. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's second home run and 22nd of the season traveled a projected 456 feet from the plate, his longest homer of the season and the longest by a Blue Jays' batter this year. Donaldson's 22 home runs also ties him with Encarnacion for fourth in the AL.
Cuthbert goes yard: One of the few offensive highlights for the Royals against Dickey came in the fourth inning when catcher Salvador Perez, who was the leading vote-getter for both leagues for this year's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, reached on a two-base error with two out. Cuthbert then ripped a Dickey fastball into the left-field seats for his eighth homer. Cuthbert also doubled in a run in the ninth.
Tulo time: Tulowitzki continued his recent offensive surge and opened up a 6-0 Blue Jays lead in the third with a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers. The 31-year-old's 16th homer extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games, and was his seventh home run in 15 games since being activated off the disabled list.
Major League debut: Right-hander Brooks Pounders, just added to the big league roster earlier in the day, made his debut in the sixth inning for the Royals. In his first inning, Pounders got two strikeouts and kept the Blue Jays off the board. He was nicked for a run in his second inning of work on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Pillar.
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With his four runs scored on Tuesday, Donaldson passed Carlos Delgado for the most runs scored by a Blue Jays player before the All-Star break with 77. Delgado scored 76 in 2003.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (6-7, 4.04 ERA) will pitch the final game of the series, which wraps up an eight-game road trip, on Wednesday at 6:07 p.m. CT. Kennedy has given up 20 homers this season. Kennedy gave up three runs over five innings last Friday at Philadelphia in a 4-3 loss.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (6-4, 5.08) gets the ball for the Blue Jays in the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Stroman struggled through the month of June, but bounced back by throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the Blue Jays' 19-inning marathon loss to the Indians his last time out.