TORONTO — On Players Weekend, Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson is going by the nickname “Bringer of Rain.”
To the Minnesota Twins, Donaldson has always been the bringer of pain.
Donaldson had three hits, including a two-run home run, Kendrys Morales added a solo shot and Toronto withstood Minnesota’s late rally to beat the Twins 10-9 Saturday.
The 2015 AL MVP, Donaldson went 3 for 5 with three RBIs and scored twice.
Donaldson has 11 homers in August, including eight in the past 13 games.
“He’s been on a good run,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’ve seen him do it before. He’s had a lot of success against us in particular, it seems like.”
He sure has. Donaldson owns a .376 (50 for 133) career batting average in 35 games against Minnesota, with 15 doubles and 14 home runs.
Donaldson’s outburst helped the Blue Jays reach double digits in runs for the first time since July 30 against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I felt like we’ve been swinging the bats pretty well but haven’t been able to get those runs across like we needed to,” Donaldson said. “Today was a nice relief.”
Max Kepler hit a grand slam and Eduardo Escobar had a two-run shot for the Twins, who maintained their half-game lead over Seattle for the second AL wild card after the Mariners lost 6-3 to the Yankees in New York. Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels were 1½ games behind entering play Saturday.
Minnesota lost for the 11th time in 13 meetings with the Blue Jays. The Twins snapped a seven-game losing streak in Toronto on Friday with their major league-leading 14th win since Aug. 6.
“We were on the wrong side of a lot of things that happened, particularly early in the game,” Molitor said.
Morales opened the scoring with a leadoff blast off Dillon Gee in the second inning.
Donaldson keyed a six-run fifth with his 23rd homer as the Blue Jays opened an 8-2 lead.
“I’ve been getting pounded in pretty much the last five or six games,” Donaldson said. “It was nice to make somewhat of an adjustment and get the barrel on the ball.”
After Kepler cut it to 8-7 with a grand slam off Ryan Tepera in the eighth, Donaldson’s RBI double off John Curtiss in the bottom half gave Toronto a two-run cushion. Donaldson later scored on a wild pitch to make it 10-7.
“He’s got a complete game,” manager John Gibbons said. “Not everybody has that, but he does.”
Kepler’s grand slam was the second of his career. The first came July 10, 2016, at Texas.
Roberto Osuna pitched around Brian Dozier’s RBI single in the ninth to earn his 34th save in 42 chances. A second run scored on Joe Mauer’s double play grounder before Osuna ended it by retiring Jorge Polanco.
Marco Estrada (6-8) allowed three runs in six innings to win for just the second time in 16 starts since May 27.
“We played a good game today,” Estrada said. “It almost fell apart, but I’m glad we pulled it off.”
Gee (1-1) took the loss in his second start with the Twins, allowing four runs and seven hits in four-plus innings.
“I felt like my mechanics got a little off,” Gee said. “The changeup just wasn’t there today.”
HOME IS WHERE THE HOMERS ARE
Toronto has homered in seven of its past eight home games and 21 of 23. The Blue Jays have hit 35 total homers in that stretch.
THREE OF A KIND
Mauer finished with three hits. Mauer has nine three-hit games this season, including six in August.
Twins: C Jason Castro (concussion) is feeling better and may be able to return on schedule on Aug. 31, Molitor said. Castro took three foul balls off his face mask in Wednesday night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, leaving after five innings.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis (left knee) remained in Florida following a series at Tampa Bay this week to continue his rehab at Toronto’s spring training facility in nearby Dunedin. Travis, who has been out since June 4, had battled minor soreness, Gibbons said. … RHP Aaron Sanchez (blister) played catch Saturday and could throw off a mound soon, Gibbons said.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (7-10, 5.76) allowed one run in seven innings to beat the White Sox in his previous outing, snapping a three-start winless streak.
Blue Jays: RHP Joe Biagini is expected to be promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to face the Twins on Sunday. After three winless starts at Buffalo, Biagini allowed two runs in seven innings to beat Pawtucket last Tuesday.
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