Jose Bautista extended his major-league lead with two home runs on Thursday night, powering the Toronto Blue Jays to a 13-2 romp of the Minnesota Twins.
Facing a bases loaded situation in the seventh inning, Bautista crushed a Pat Neshek offering to left field that cleared the bases.
The slugger went deep for a second time in the ninth, marking his ninth multi-homer game of the season. It was also his 54th homer of the campaign. In total, the Jays knocked out six home runs against Minnesota, extending their franchise record 253.
The first basemen finished the game 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored for the Jays (83-76), who took the first of a four-game series at Target Field.
Edwin Encarnacion added two home runs with three RBIs and the same number of runs scored. It marked Encarnacion’s second multi-homer game of the year.
Jose Molina and Travis Snider also homered for the blue birds. Toronto now ranks fourth all time for most home runs by a club in a season.
The Blue Jays opened the score in the top of the second inning. Encarnacion hit his first homer of the game with two outs and one man on base, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Toronto added two more runs in the fifth after Encarnacion and Molina hit back-to-back long balls.
Mississauga, Ont., native Shawn Hill (1-2) allowed one run over three hits in 4 2/3 innings for the Jays. The right-hander had one strikeout with one walk and earned a no-decision.
Minnesota (93-66) broke Toronto’s shutout in the bottom of the fifth.
Danny Valencia doubled and later scored on a single by Drew Butera.
Brian Tallet relieved Hill with two outs in the fifth and induced an Orlando Hudson fly out to end the Twins’ threat.
John Buck put Toronto ahead 5-1 in the following inning. The catcher came to the plate with Bautista on second base and hit a double to left-centre.
Casey Janssen (5-2) earned the win after throwing 1 1/3 innings with one strike out.
The Blue Jays’ bullpen allowed only one run in 4 1/3 innings.
Francisco Liriano (14-10) made his last start for Minnesota before the post-season, allowing five runs and three homers. The lefty, recently named the starter for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, added six strikeouts and one walk.
The Dominican was looking to build some momentum before the AL Central Champions begin the playoffs, but could not hold Toronto’s power, losing his third straight start.
Michael Cuddyer drove in the Twins second run one inning later with a triple. Jason Kubel scored on the first baseman’s three-bagger.
Bautista’s grand slam put the icing on the cake and gave his team a seven-run advantage.
Snider continued the long-ball party with a two-run blast in the eighth, extending his career-high 12-game hit streak while smacking his third homer in as many days.
Toronto has won 10 of its last 13 games and will send Ricky Romero to the mound for the second game of the series.
Carl Pavano will start for Minnesota.