TORONTO — Troy Tulowitzki has found a kindred spirit in Toronto.
Tulowiztki and Josh Donaldson both hit home runs early in the Blue Jays’ 3-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday as Toronto added to its lead in the American League wild-card race.
The newly acquired Blue Jays shortstop thinks that he and Donaldson are alike on the field, even if they have different temperaments in the clubhouse.
“He’s outgoing, outspoken at times, he has a lot of fun. Not that I don’t, but I’m more of the serious guy,” said Tulowitzki. “But on the field there’s some similarities. Guys that compete. Guys that grind out at-bats. Guys that probably put winning first and guys that hopefully make a difference when they’re on a team.”
Tulowitzki was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies on July 28th along with reliever LaTroy Hawkins for shortstop Jose Reyes, reliever Miguel Castro and minor-league pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco.
He’s hit two home runs since coming to Toronto and is feeling more comfortable, thanks in part to Donaldson’s influence.
“It’s been about a week here and Josh is definitely fun to be around, someone that I’ve admired from the other side,” said Tulowitzki. “Getting a chance to play with him, it’s special and hopefully it’s for a long time.”
Marco Estrada (9-6) struck out five over 6 2/3 innings, giving up two hits and a run for Toronto (56-52). The Blue Jays have won three straight and hold the AL’s second wild-card spot.
“I think we feel pretty good with the new guys that we’ve brought in,” said Estrada. “It’s just an exciting time right now. As long as we win and keep this going that’s all that matters.”
Mark Lowe and Aaron Sanchez combined for an inning and a half of scoreless relief. Roberto Osuna earned his eighth save of the season.
Sanchez and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons were suspended by Major League Baseball on Tuesday afternoon for their roles in a bench-clearing altercation against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
Sanchez was suspended for three games and fined for his role in the incident, but he appealed the decision allowing him to stay on Toronto’s active roster.
Gibbons served his one-game suspension Tuesday night, with bench coach DeMarlo Hale managing the game in his absence.
Phil Hughes (10-7) allowed five hits and three runs in the start for Minnesota (54-52), which has dropped three straight to give up the second AL wild-card spot to Toronto.
Hughes said after the loss that the early home runs by Donaldson and Tulowitzki “kind of took me off my game a little bit.”
Ryan O’Rourke, Casey Fien and Kevin Jepsen came out of the bullpen for the Twins.
Donaldson got Toronto on the board early, hitting his 28th home run of the season to deep left field in just the second at-bat of the game. He has homered in five of his last nine games.
Tulowitzki gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead with a solo shot over the left-field wall in the third inning.
“Those guys at the top, they can change the game with one swing of the bat,” said Hale. “It’s a threat from the start. (…) You’ve got a two-run lead, it’s a pretty good beginning.”
Torii Hunter cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1 in the fourth. Estrada loaded the bases and Hunter’s sacrifice fly to deep right field brought in Brian Dozier. Estrada got out of the jam in the next at-bat, striking out left-fielder Eddie Rosario.
The Blue Jays almost added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth. Kevin Pillar grounded out to third base with two out, but Trevor Plouffe’s throw was slightly off the mark, forcing first baseman Joe Mauer off the bag. Umpire Tom Woodring ruled that Mauer still tagged Pillar on the play.
If Pillar had been safe, Edwin Encarnacion would’ve easily scored from third.
Encarnacion did score in the sixth inning when Dioner Navarro drove him in with a soft double to left-centre field. That RBI gave Toronto a 3-1 lead and ended Hughes’s night.