Jays' McDonald packs a punch against Twins
Light-hitting Toronto infielder belts 2nd homer of season in 6-3 win
Aaron Hill sure knows how to celebrate the birth of his first child.
Wait a second. Was that really the Toronto Blue Jays' 2009 home run leader stroking a game-winning three-run blast and shining at second base against the visiting Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night?
No it wasn't. While Hill was in Florida with wife Elizabeth enjoying little Paige Victoria, who came into the world at 10:45 p.m. on Monday, it was John McDonald making like his teammate.
The light-hitting McDonald led Toronto with three hits, including his second home run of the season, a three-run blast in a 6-3 doubling of the visiting Twins.
McDonald wore a sheepish grin as his teammates offered both their congratulations and barbs afterwards.
"I don't hit too many homers so they had a little fun with that," acknowledged McDonald, who was making just his 18th start and 54th appearance of the season. "Everybody wants to finish the year strong, it's no secret that it's been a tough year for a lot of the guys, we're not where we want to be, so any positives you can take from these games is good for every guy in here."
Lind extends streak
What will many Toronto Blue Jays fans remember most about the team's six-run sixth inning on Tuesday? John McDonald's three-run home run.
Getting little play, however, was a sharp single to right field by left-fielder Adam Lind off Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Brian Duensing.
For Lind, who flied out to left and struck out earlier in the game, it marked the 27th consecutive game he reached base safely.
Earlier on Tuesday, the fourth-year Blue Jay was named co-player of the week in the American League with Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria after homering three times and driving in a major league-best 12 runs.
In his breakout season, the 26-year-old Lind is batting .303 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs.
He will attempt to extend the streak Wednesday night against Twins right-hander Carl Pavano, who has faced Lind six times in his career and allowed two hits.
McDonald, who has 11 dingers in 718 games over his career, capped a six-run sixth inning by turning on a Jon Rauch offering and hooking the ball inside the foul pole in left field to snap a 3-3 tie.
McDonald, who turns 35 on Sept. 24, also singled in the fifth off Twins starter Brian Duensing and added a base hit in the eighth inning off Jose Mijares to complete his second three-hit performance of the season. He went 3-for-5 at Texas on Aug. 31 in a 18-10 rout of the Rangers.
"I'm happy for him because he's been a perfect citizen on this club," said Toronto manager Cito Gaston of McDonald. "He hasn't the opportunity to play a lot and he's never complained, he just continues to let me know he's ready whenever I need him."
The three runs batted in nearly matched the four RBIs McDonald managed over his first 78 at-bats this season, but all that mattered on this night was the end result.
"That's not something I like to talk about," McDonald said with a grin about his RBI total. "I'll take them any way I can get them."
McDonald was also his sure-handed best in the seventh when he went to his right, backhanded a sharp ground ball by Mike Redmond and threw out the Minnesota catcher at first base.
The only other Blue Jay with more than one hit was Jose Bautista, who took Hill's customary No. 2 spot in the batting order and singled and doubled after clubbing his fourth homer of the season Monday in a 6-3 loss to Minnesota.
Hill is expected to rejoin the team on Friday in Detroit.
Duensing dazzling early on
In the first five innings, the 62-76 Blue Jays had only five baserunners on four hits and a walk as Duensing — facing the Blue Jays for the first time in his career — seemed poised to win his third game in just his fifth major-league start.
But the 26-year-old left-hander failed to record an out in the sixth inning and was yanked after yielding singles to Bautista and Adam Lind and walking Vernon Wells.
Enter Rauch, who served up a sacrifice fly to Randy Ruiz (scoring Bautista) and a one-out, two-run single to Edwin Encarnacion before McDonald went deep.
That was enough support for Ricky Romero, who allowed three runs (all earned) in 6 2/3 innings to earn his 12th win of the campaign against seven losses. It was his longest stint since going seven frames in a 7-2 win over Baltimore on Aug. 2.
"That's what happens when I start throwing strikes, start getting ahead in counts and try not to nibble too much," said Romero. "I think it was just a good all-around win."
With as many as four starts left before the end of the season, Romero could challenge Mark Eichhorn's Blue Jays record of 14 wins by a rookie.
Meanwhile, Minnesota (69-69) missed a glorious opportunity to inch toward a potential playoff berth. The first-place Detroit Tigers fell 7-5 at Kansas City on Tuesday night and remain 6½ games ahead of the Twins.
Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay will try for his 15th win of the season on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET. In his last start, Halladay posted his second career one-hitter in a complete-game 6-0 win over the New York Yankees.
With files from The Canadian Press