MINNEAPOLIS — Bartolo Colon has given the Minnesota Twins a strong effort since he joined the team two months ago.
Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays overpowered Big Sexy on his big night Friday.
Pillar homered, Donaldson went deep and drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with an infield single that ricocheted off reliever Ryan Pressly , and the Blue Jays beat the Twins 4-3 to slow their push toward the postseason.
The Twins had a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card going into the night, with the Seattle Mariners 3 1/2 games back. The New York Yankees hold the first wild card with a four-game edge on the Twins.
Colon (4-5 in the AL, 6-13 overall) did his best to get the Blue Jays to hit catchable balls, but the 44-year-old faltered after four scoreless innings. Pillar hit his homer in fifth. Then Donaldson went deep in the sixth .
“I was a little upset. He beat me on the first pitch I saw. I was looking fastball in, and somehow he beat me. The second time around, I got him,” Pillar said. “It was probably further inside, but I just committed to my plan and picked one side of the plate. He’s a guy who throws a lot of strikes, and you know what he’s throwing. It can be as simple as just looking in or away. Today, I decided to look in.”
Colon got RBIs from Joe Mauer and Chris Gimenez and a homer from Brian Dozier, but it wasn’t enough on “Big Sexy Night .” The Twins had souvenir T-shirts for fans who bought a special ticket package in honor of the burly right-hander, who has more than held his own despite his decreased velocity with a 4.80 ERA in 12 starts.
The big-swinging Blue Jays consistently made solid contact, though, with 12 out of 18 flyball outs.
Pillar walked to lead off the seventh, and an RBI double by Russell Martin prompted manager Paul Molitor to pull Colon for Pressly.
“I think that every team kind of gets an inning where they score some runs,” Colon said through an interpreter, “and that was their inning.”
Donaldson’s two-out, two-strike smash struck Pressly’s right ankle before pin-balling toward shortstop Jorge Polanco, who had no play.
“I know Dozier’s playing right behind me,” Pressly said. “Just chalk it up to some bad luck.”
Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ (9-10) also went into the seventh inning, with slightly better results. He struck out five and won his third straight turn.
The Twins won in the 10th inning on Thursday night with a walk-off home run by Byron Buxton , but there was no end-of-game drama this time. Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 36th save in 46 opportunities, his first appearance in 10 days after going on paternity leave this week, as the hundreds of boisterous Blue Jays fans from the central Canadian provinces walked out happy despite their team being buried in the standings this season.
“He was popping pretty good tonight,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s had a big week.”
Buxton had two hits, including a bunt single in the fourth inning. He then stole second base and scored on Gimenez’s two-out single. With 21 consecutive successful steals, Buxton’s streak is tied with Zoilo Versalles for the third-longest in Twins history. Chuck Knoblauch and Matt Lawton each swiped 22 in a row.
TORMENTING THE TWINS
In 38 career games against the Twins, Donaldson is batting .375 with 16 doubles, 15 homers and 41 RBIs. Donaldson’s on-base-plus-slugging percentage, at 1.239 entering the night, is the highest by any opposing player in Twins history including the franchise’s previous incarnation as the Washington Senators.
Blue Jays: Martin was back in the lineup as the catcher, after a day off out of precaution for his previously strained left oblique muscle. This was the first time Happ pitched to him in more than a month. “We’re pretty comfortable with each other. It’s nice to see him back there. I told him that,” Happ said.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios, a noted fitness fanatic, has been encouraged by the team to shorten his bullpen session and back off his work a bit between starts. Berrios has pitched 175 2/3 innings this season, including 136 for the Twins. “I think it’s more general fatigue than it is arm,” Molitor said.
Blue Jays: LHP Marco Estrada (8-8, 4.96 ERA) takes the mound on Saturday night. He’s 4-1 in his last 10 starts, with three runs or less allowed in eight turns.
Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia (4-5, 4.47 ERA) returns to the rotation to pitch the third game of the series. The rookie missed more than a month with an upper arm strain, with his last start coming on Aug. 8.
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