Josh Donaldson made some tweaks to his approach at the plate and it paid off on Saturday afternoon.
The third baseman drove in three runs and scored the eventual winner as the Blue Jays edged the Twins 10-9.
Donaldson gave the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead with a two-run homer in the fifth inning, delivering a well-placed double in the eighth to drive in Ezequiel Carrera and later scored on a wild pitch by Twins reliever John Curtiss.
“I was able to put a pretty good swing on it,” said Donaldson of his 23rd home run of the season. “I’ve been getting pounded in pretty much the last five or six games, but it was nice to finally be able to make some of an adjustment and get the barrel on the ball.
“I’ve felt like we’ve been swinging the bats pretty well, we just haven’t been able to kind of put those runs across like we needed to and today was a nice relief. We got some nice situational hitting done today too, and it was able to drive some runs in.”
With Toronto leading 8-3 in the eighth, Minnesota loaded the bases, and Max Kepler put Ryan Tepera’s 2-2 pitch into the seats for his second career grand slam, pulling the Twins to within one.
The Blue Jays scored twice in the bottom half of the eighth but Minnesota added a pair in the ninth before Roberto Osuna escaped with his 34th save of the season.
Marco Estrada (6-8) went six innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits in the win for the Blue Jays (61-68), who have won 13 of 19 at home but just two of their last eight overall.
“I felt pretty good out there. I thought I made a lot of good pitches,” said Estrada. “It’s a tough lineup, a really tough lineup.
“Some pitches kind of stayed over the plate. But other than that I thought I threw the ball pretty well today.”
The Twins (66-63) have dropped four of six games on their current seven-game road trip, which wraps up on Sunday. Minnesota remains a half game up in the second wild card spot in the American League with Seattle’s loss in New York Saturday.
“The fight is always good, you would expect that kind of where we’re at playing these games, there should be fight,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “It’s a loss. If there’s any solace to be had, we kept on playing and gave ourselves a chance at the end.”
Trailing 2-0 in the fifth, Eduardo Escobar went deep over the right-field wall for a two-run home run.
Dillon Gee (1-1) allowed four earned runs on seven hits over four-plus innings while striking out four. He was chased after Donaldson’s home run.
Tyler Duffy didn’t fare much better in relief, walking Justin Smoak before surrendering back-to-back singles to Jose Bautista and Morales to load the bases.
Pillar drove in a run with an RBI single and Ryan Goins cashed in another with a sacrifice fly before Duffy was pulled.
With Ryan Pressly taking over from Duffy, Raffy Lopez drove in a pair of runs and advanced to second on a poor throw from Byron Buxton, extending the Blue Jays lead to 8-2.
The Twins added a run in the sixth on a sac fly from Eddie Rosario.
Kendrys Morales got the Blue Jays on the board with a second inning home run. Bautista doubled the Blue Jays lead in the third, scoring Lopez with a sac fly.