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Twins slug four home runs in win over Blue Jays

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Twins slug four home runs in win over Blue Jays

TORONTO — Jorge Polanco giveth, and Jorge Polanco taketh away.

Filling in at shortstop for Andrelton Simmons, who had to remain in the United States this weekend, Polanco helped give the Toronto Blue Jays the lead with his arm and helped take it away for good with his bat.

Polanco committed a pair of errors in the bottom of the second that directly led to two runs, and then quickly helped the Twins swipe the lead back in the top of the third, hitting the first of back-to-back-to-back home runs in the Twins’ 7-3 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s easy to know what to do when you’re making great plays and everyone’s smiling and that’s fine. But what do you do when stuff’s hitting the fan?” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “What he did was just kind of bear down, got back to what he knows. … Started out not the best day, ended up a great day.”

Polanco’s two-run home run — one of three hits on the night for him — in the third gave the Twins a 4-2 lead at the time. Josh Donaldson, a former Blue Jay who got a standing ovation before his first at-bat, followed with a home run of his own.

Donaldson’s home run knocked Blue Jays starter Hyun Jin Ryu out of the game, but the offense still wasn’t done.

“When we score, we tend to score in bunches,” Donaldson said. “And we were able to do that again tonight.”

Miguel Sanó greeted Ross Stripling with a home run, marking the first time the Twins have completed the trifecta since 2019, as the Twins (65-83) did to the Blue Jays (82-65) what their potent offense often does to opposing pitchers.

The Twins got one more home run in the sixth inning from Brent Rooker, who, in his first game off the paternity list since welcoming daughter Blair Evelyn, finished with a pair of hits and two runs driven in.

“You’re never really in the clear when you’re facing an offense like this, so you have to score.And then you have to score some more or else you’re really going to be in for a challenging night. But our guys were up for it,” Baldelli said.

And their pitchers were up for the challenge, too, keeping the homer-happy Blue Jays inside the ballpark. Well, all except for MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit his major league-leading 46th home run off starter Michael Pineda in the third inning.

If not for Polanco’s errors leading to a pair of runs, that might have been the only run the Blue Jays would have scored all night against a quartet of Twins pitchers that included Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey and Alexander Colomé.

That group held Blue Jays hitters to just five hits as the Twins captured the series opener in Toronto. The Twins have six more games remaining against the Blue Jays, who are now half a game out of wild card position, in the next two series, giving them the opportunity to play spoiler.

But that’s not their focus. Playing good, winning baseball like they did most of Friday is.

“We’re trying to set the tone, not just finish strong this year but leading into next year. We have guys that are going to be here, most likely, going into 2022.  We want to start setting the tone now that we still have the expectations to win,” Donaldson said. “And go out there and play hard to where we roll into spring training, continue setting that foundation that we’re setting now.”

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