TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays knew they needed to be on high alert this weekend with speedster Byron Buxton and the Minnesota Twins in town.
Toronto’s hunch proved to be right as Buxton had three hits, drove in two runs and was good defensively in Minnesota’s 6-1 win over the Jays on Friday night.
“He might be the fastest guy in the league,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said pre-game. “He’s really starting to put it together. He can do so many things with his legs, he can beat you with those legs.”
Buxton dropped a perfectly executed squeeze bunt in the third inning to drive in the game’s first run, advanced the runner on a bunt single in the fifth and drove in the game’s final run with an RBI single in the ninth.
The 23-year-old added a highlight-reel leaping grab in the eighth inning to take extra bases away from Rob Refsnyder.
“I knew I got a good jump,” Buxton said of the catch. “I saw it well, saw it tailing away from me. I knew I had a good chance of getting there and making a play.”
Jorge Polanco added a pair of RBIs for the Twins (66-62), who entered Friday a half game up on the Kansas City Royals for the second American League wild-card spot. Minnesota also avoided a third straight loss.
Toronto (60-68) has now dropped six of seven after going 7-3 on a 10-game home stand earlier this month.
Bartolo Colon (6-10) surrendered nine hits and walked one over 6 2/3 innings. The 44-year-old right-hander has now won back-to-back starts and four of his last five outings.
“Outstanding start by Bartolo,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “Bartolo spread out some hits along the way but he really made a lot of quality pitches and got us deep into the game.”
J.A. Happ (6-10) went six innings allowing five earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven for his third consecutive loss.
Leading 1-0 in the third, Polanco doubled to score a pair of runs, giving Minnesota an early 3-0 lead.
“I just made a bad pitch on that double, change-up kind of middle of the plate,” said Happ. “That’s the one I want back. Ended up being the difference in the game right there.
“Just didn’t execute it.”
Justin Smoak made history with his solo home run in the bottom half of the third. The first baseman now holds the single-season franchise record for homers by a switch hitter (35) surpassing Jose Cruz Jr.
Minnesota took a 4-1 lead in the fourth after Mitch Garver led off with a triple off the wall in right and scored on a sac-fly from Max Kepler.
Toronto threatened in the fourth after a Kevin Pillar one-out single. Nori Aoki moved him over from first to third after a single of his own, but Colon got Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney to fly out to end the inning.
The Twins manufactured another run in the fifth capitalizing on a leadoff double from Joe Mauer. After the Minnesota first basement advanced to third on a bunt single from Buxton, Polanco cashed in the run with sac-fly.
Notes: Prior to Friday’s game, the Blue Jays reinstated RHP Nick Tepesch from the paternity list and optioned him to triple-A Buffalo. … RHP Joe Biagini (3-8, 5.11 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Blue Jays on Sunday when they conclude a three-game series with the Twins.