MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jose Bautista hit three homers for the first time in his career Sunday, adding to his major league-leading total and sending the Toronto Blue Jays to an 11-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins and a sweep of their three-game series.
Jose Molina also had three hits for the Blue Jays, who scored in each of the first four innings. Yunel Escobar and Aaron Hill also had a pair of hits for Toronto.
The victory extended Toronto’s winning streak to a season-best five games and allowed the Blue Jays (20-20) to get back to the .500 mark for the first time in nearly a month.
Trevor Plouffe doubled and scored twice while Justin Morneau recorded his 10th double of the season for Minnesota, which has lost eight straight and 14 of 17 as it heads out for a weeklong West Coast road trip. The defending AL Central champions have the worst record in baseball.
Bautista, who led the majors with 54 homers last year, continued his recent tear. The right fielder is hitting .415 with 13 homers and 21 RBIs over the past 19 games, and his 16 home runs this season are just two behind the total of the entire Twins team.
After popping out to third base in the first inning Sunday, Bautista hit a solo home run to the second deck of left field off of Twins starter Brian Duensing in the third.
In the fourth, Bautista hit a line drive solo homer just inside the left field line off of reliever Kevin Slowey. Both of those homers were hit into a strong wind that was blowing in from left at more than 20 miles per hour.
In the sixth, Bautista’s two-run homer to right-center just cleared the 23-foot high wall and gave Toronto an 11-3 lead. Before hitting into a fielder’s choice in the eighth, Bautista had homered four times in five plate appearances going back to Saturday’s 11th-inning homer.
Bautista has 11 multi-home run games since the beginning of the 2010 season and three this season. His recent surge has him ahead of last year’s pace; he reached 16 homers on May 30.
That was more than enough offense for the Blue Jays pitchers.
Brandon Morrow (2-2) limited Minnesota to three runs over five innings to pick up the victory. Shawn Camp, Carlos Villanueva and Octavio Dotel combined to pitch four scoreless innings of relief.
Duensing (3-4) entered the game as perhaps Minnesota’s most consistent pitcher. But he lasted only three innings, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits. It was his shortest start of the season that wasn’t affected by weather.
Kevin Slowey, who is adjusting to a bullpen role, gave up four runs in relief.
From the beginning of the game, Toronto piled up runs. The Blue Jays opened the game by turning a pair of walks into two runs in the first inning before adding a single run in the second and four in the third. By the time Bautista homered in the fourth, the lead was 8-0.
Minnesota had an opportunity to make the game interesting in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with none out. After Delmon Young struck out, Michael Cuddyer walked to force in a run. With the bases still loaded, Danny Valencia couldn’t drive in a run with a fly out and Drew Butera followed with a strikeout.
Notes: Bautista also tied the Blue Jays team record for homers through 40 games. Carlos Delgado had 16 homers through 40 games in 2001. … Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia was fine after taking a foul ball off of his throwing hand Saturday. Arencibia didn’t start on Sunday after starting nine consecutive games. … Minnesota DH Jim Thome, who is on the DL with an oblique injury, is expected to participate in a simulated game Monday at Fort Myers, Fla. … Toronto IF Jayson Nix, who suffered a leg injury, could rejoin the Blue Jays this week in Detroit.
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