A Cito Gaston-type game to say goodbye to Cito Gaston.
The Toronto Blue Jays hit two solo home runs, pitched well, tossed in some generally good defence and beat the host Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Sunday afternoon, wrapping up their 2010 season.
The victory gave the Jays an 85-77 mark overall, 257 homers — tying for third-best ever with Baltimore — and their fourth winning season in five years.
Cito Gaston, in toto
- Games: 1,731
- Wins: 893
- Losses: 837
- Years managing: 12
- Years over .500: 8 (.666)
- Division titles: 4 (.333)
- Pennants: 2
- World Series wins: 2
"I really think the theme they came up with for this year — heart and hustle — has really been appropriate," Gaston said. "They never quit. We lost some tough ones this year."
And then there's Gaston, retiring after his second stint with Toronto and taking an 894-837 overall mark in the regular season with him in 1,731 games. He went 211-201 in his second stint.
Overall, he won four division titles, two American League pennants and two World Series.
The game opened with Gaston receiving a standing ovation from the Twins' faithful as he walked out to get a cheque from the Minnesota organization in his name for the Jays Care Foundation charity.
It ended with the manager doing something unusual — staying in the field to accept congratulations from a number of Twins' players and coaches.
"It was nice to see him win and ride off into the sunset," Toronto's Adam Lind said.
Minnesota found out a little while after the game that they'll be hosting the wildcard-winning New York Yankees in a divisional series beginning Wednesday.
"I think at first there was a little bit of shock for us to be playing the Yankees, you know, but they're a beatable team," NIck Blackburn said, recalling last year's series defeat. "We can go out there and beat 'em, and there's no reason we shouldn't."
Minnesota was on the board first when luck turned against Toronto starter Mark Rzepczynski.
Orlando Hudson was on first and the lefty caught him leaning to start a rundown. As the Twins' runner took off for second, Lyle Overbay threw his relay from first into centre-field on one bounce.
Trevor Plouffe then singled to left, bringing the O-Dog home for 1-0 Twins.
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion came up in the fifth and launched a slider from Blackburn into the Jays' bullpen in left centre-field.
It was the third baseman's eighth hit in the series and fifth home run, giving him 21 on the season.
Two innings later, it was Lind who popped one into left field, barely past the outstretched glove of Delmon Young and into a little flower box that sits on the top of the wall at Target Field.
Rzepczynski (W, 4-4) went seven strong innings on one run (unearned), four hits, two walks, six strikeouts, 100 pitches.
Jesse Carlson pitched a clean eighth.
Shawn Camp closed out a three-straight ninth with one strikeout.
Blackburn (L, 10-12) also threw seven strong innings on two earned runs, three hits, one walk, six strikeouts and two home runs.
Jose Mijares and Glen Perkins each threw an inning with no damage.