Danny Jansen hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, George Springer also went deep and the Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 Sunday to maintain pressure in the American League wild-card race before heading to Toronto for their final homestand.
Toronto will enter the final week one game back for the second AL wild card. The New York Yankees and Boston were tied for the wild-card lead heading into their game on Sunday night.
Toronto won the final two games of the four-game series. The Blue Jays host three-game series against New York and Baltimore.
“We just have to win,” said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo. “I’m so proud of this team, to be where we are right now. They deserve all the credit.”
Alek Manoah (8-2) won his third successive start, giving up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. The rookie has 25 strikeouts in his last three outings.
Manoah and three relievers combined to strike out 15.
“You want to show up and you want to give the team a chance, because right now everything’s a little stick,” Manoah said. “You’ve got to go out there and compete and just understand what’s at stake.”
The Blue Jays head home to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, which was recently allowed to double the capacity for games. That means 30,000 fans will be there when the Blue Jays take on the Yankees in a pivotal series.
“I think everybody’s excited for it,” Jensen said. “We’re going to play the big dogs, and we’re going to play them at home in front of 30,000 fans. That’s a huge thing, having those fans.”
Griffin Jax (3-5) gave up four runs and six hits in five innings as the Twins lost their second in a row following a four-game winning streak.
“At every point, really, we felt like we were absolutely in the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Jansen homered in the second after a pair of one-out bloop singles by Corey Dickerson to left and Santiago Espinal to centre.
Jake Cave hit an RBI single in the bottom half.
Springer homered in the fifth, a drive that, like Jansen’s, went into the bullpen in left-centre field. Both players put on Toronto’s home run jacket – the Blue Jays have hit a major-league high 248.
Springer’s homer was his second in as many days after going homerless in 12 successive games.
Teoscar Hernandez hit a run-scoring double in the eighth and leads the major leagues with 112 RBIs, including a big-league high 64 since the all-star break.
Byron Buxton homered in the fifth, his career-best 16th in just 55 games this season.
“He’s been basically the best player in baseball for the time he’s had on the field,” Baldelli said of Buxton. “Buck’s a great player. We see it every day when he’s out here.”
Blue Jays right-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (13-9) appears likely to start against the Yankees and right-hander Jameson Taillon (8-6, 4.41).