Martin shows why he's a difference-maker

Veteran doubles twice, provides steadying influence behind plate

Martin shows why he's a difference-maker

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's no secret that catcher Russell Martin is a key cog in the Blue Jays' lineup.

Martin displayed that in just his second game back since returning from the disabled list, hitting a pair of doubles to lift Toronto past Minnesota, 4-3, on Friday night at Target Field. His second double off Bartolo Colon tied the game, and he scored the go-ahead run later in the inning.

The effort was Martin's first multi-double game of the season and first since July 30, 2016, at Baltimore.

"Russ is a big part of this team, and there is no doubt he had a big night with the bat," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

But more than that, Martin helps provides stability behind the plate, which benefits Blue Jays pitchers.

With Martin putting down the fingers, left-hander J.A. Happ held the bruising Twins' potent attack to three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Happ struck out five batters and walked one en route to his third straight victory.

"We've come to a point where we are pretty comfortable with each other," Happ said. "It's nice to see him back. I told him that tonight. Just his presence, it's fun."

Martin returned to action for Wednesday's series finale against Baltimore after missing more than a month with an oblique injury. Martin was originally in the starting lineup for the series opener with the Twins on Thursday, but Gibbons decided to scratch him and give the catcher a day to rest.

Donaldon's go-ahead single

After grounding out in his first at-bat Friday, Martin smacked a double to right-centre field in the fifth following a leadoff homer from Kevin Pillar. The gapper went an estimated 388 feet at 98.3 mph, per Statcast™.

In his next trip, Martin chased Colon with a double to left, which had an exit velocity of 106.4 mph. It was the hardest-hit ball by a Blue Jays hitter on the night. He then scored the go-ahead run on Josh Donaldson's single later in the inning.

"He's a difference-maker," Gibbons said. "He's really the glue of this team. It was a big night for him after basically being out for a month."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Blue Jays on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.