Blue Jays ride Donaldson’s bat to victory over Red Sox

May 27, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) hits a double against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) hits a double against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays bats were alive and well in the opener of a 3 game set with the Red Sox, winning 7-5 on the strength of a great night from Josh Donaldson.

The Blue Jays entered the series with the Boston Red Sox badly needing to make up some ground lost early this season to the AL East leaders. The Blue Jays sent young righty Aaron Sanchez to the mound vs Boston’s Joe Kelly. Sanchez entered the game 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA and has looked like a top of the rotation arm, while Kelly made his second start since returning from the DL earlier this year.

Josh Donaldson opened the scoring with his 12th home run of the season on a fastball from Kelly in the first. Donaldson continued to show his ability to drive the ball off-field, taking the low and in offering over the right field fence.

The typically sure-handed Troy Tulowitzki made his 7th error of the season in the 2nd inning, throwing the ball high and wide of Justin Smoak‘s glove at first base. Travis Shaw reached base on the error, advanced to third on a Hanley Ramirez groundout, and scored on a Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout as the Red Sox manufactured their first run to answer Donaldson’s home run.

Donaldson continued to hit well against Kelly on a very similar drive to right field in the 4th, bringing home Ezequiel Carrera to make it 2-1. The double was Donaldson’s 12th of the season, matching his home run total at that point. The reigning MVP contributed on the defensive side of the ball as well in the 4th inning, completing an inning ending double play with runners on the corners and the Red Sox threatening.

In the bottom half, the Blue Jays loaded the bases with a Russell Martin walk, followed by a well-timed hit and run play with Kevin Pillar. Carrera squared to bunt and was hit, loading the bases for Donaldson to continue his hot evening. It wasn’t fancy, but Donaldson had a broken bat infield single, scoring Martin. The Jays made it 4-2 on a sacrifice fly from Edwin Encarnacion, on a ball that EE just missed sending into the bleachers. Kelly was able to escape the bases loaded jam with a strikeout of Tulowitzki.

Justin Smoak added to the damage in the bottom half of the fifth, taking Kelly to the 2nd deck in right field.

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In a scary moment in the 6th inning. Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes had a fastball get away from him and hit the shortstop high and tight in the left shoulder, inches away from clipping his face. Tulowitzki initially hit the ground looking seriously injured, but got to his feet and headed to first, reassuring the trainer’s he was fine to continue.

Sanchez arguably was left in too long as he gave up two runs in the top half of the 7th inning on a Christian Vazquez two run single. After striking out Blake Swihart he gave way to Joe Biagini after 6.2 innings, who then retired Mookie Betts to escape the inning.

Biagini continued on into the 8th and had some misfortune to start the inning. Outfielders Pillar Michael Saunders both converged on a ball in the gap by Dustin Pedroia but failed to communicate and both peeled off the ball, letting it drop between them. Pedroia tagged on a Xander Bogaerts fly ball. With the infield drawn in, Travis Shaw was able to bring in Pedroia to tie the game with a weak grounder through the right side. Hanley Ramirez hit into a double play to help Biagini end the inning and keeping the tie in place.

Carrera lead off the eighth inning with a bunt single for the Jays before Donaldson capped off his outstanding evening. Taking yet another ball to right field, Donaldson had a great at bat against Koji Uehara that ended up a home run, just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Betts.

Roberto Osuna entered the game in the 9th with a 7-5 lead and closed the door quickly on the Red Sox, earning his 11th save of the season.

Additional game notes:

  • Tulowitzki returned after a 2 game absence with a strained quad.
  • Jose Bautista serving his suspension tonight, joked on Twitter about going to the Raptors game if the Jays let him.
  • Pedroia entered the game with a 20 game hit streak vs the Jays.
  • The Jays reached .500 and are now 25-25 through the first 50 games of the season.