Blue Jays 6 Twins 3
TORONTO — This has been a season of little action with few highlights for John McDonald, so Tuesday night was a rare chance for the popular infielder to bask in the spotlight.
McDonald’s three-run homer just inside the foul pole in left capped a six-run sixth inning as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied past the Minnesota Twins for a 6-3 victory.
The homer was just the second this season for McDonald, who was only making his 18th start (54th appearance) because second baseman Aaron Hill is in Florida following the birth of his daughter Paige Victoria on Monday evening.
Well-liked in the clubhouse and adored by fans despite his minimal role behind Hill and shortstop Marco Scutaro, McDonald wore a sheepish grin as his teammates offered both their congratulations and barbs afterwards.
“I don’t hit too many homers so they had a little fun with that,” McDonald acknowledged. “Everybody wants to finish the year strong, it’s no secret that it’s been a tough year for a lot of the guys, we’re not where we want to be, so, any positives you can take from these games is good for every guy in here.”
McDonald finished the night with three hits and such offensive displays don’t come very often for the 34-year-old. He has just 11 home runs in 718 games over his career, and had a mere four RBIs coming in this season before nearly doubling his total with one swing.
“That’s not something I like to talk about,” McDonald said with a grin about his RBI total. “I’ll take them any way I can get them.”
A Randy Ruiz sacrifice fly and Edwin Encarnacion two-run single had tied things up earlier in the sixth for the Blue Jays (62-76), who picked up a third win in five games before a crowd of 13,488, swelled by some rowdy university freshmen.
While McDonald’s homer briefly put the “U of T sucks” chants on hold, it more importantly made a winner out of Ricky Romero (12-7), who delivered one of his sharpest starts in nearly a month.
The rookie lefty allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks over 6 2-3 innings, his longest stint since going seven frames in a 7-2 win over Baltimore on Aug. 2.
“That’s what happens when I start throwing strikes, start getting ahead in counts and try not to nibble too much,” said Romero. “I think it was just a good all-around win.”
Jesse Carlson picked up the final out of the seventh, Scott Downs pitched a scoreless eighth and Jason Frasor closed things out in the ninth for his seventh save, sending the Twins (69-69) to a 10th loss in their past 12 games in Toronto.
“One bad inning kind of us blew us away tonight,” lamented Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
Things didn’t look good for Romero early on, as Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., opened the scoring with a ground-rule double in the first that was picked up by an on-field game staffer who thought the ball was foul. Denard Span was allowed to score from first base on the play.
The Twins made it 3-0 in the third on Jason Kubel’s two-run double and looked to be cruising behind rookie lefty Brian Duensing, who was making his fifth big-league start.
But Duensing hit a bump in the fifth when he allowed the first three batters to reach and Jon Rauch (2-1) couldn’t bail him out.