Twins top Blue Jays 7-3 behind clutch Polanco, strong bullpen

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MINNEAPOLIS — Jorge Polanco had a pair of two-out RBIs and Jose Miranda homered for the Minnesota Twins, who beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 behind a stellar bullpen performance on Saturday night.

All-Star Luis Arraez went 3 for 5 with an RBI for the first-place Twins, who kept their two-game lead on Cleveland in the AL Central.

Arraez doubled twice and scored on both of Polanco’s clutch hits – a single in the third inning off Blue Jays starter Mitch White (1-3) and a double in the fifth after White was replaced by Tim Mayza.

Mayza had a painful night, ending with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder. Three batters after surrendering Miranda’s 11th home run to start the sixth, Mayza charged a squeeze bunt that Sandy Leon dropped down in front of the mound for a single to score the speedy Nick Gordon.

His only chance was to try to scoop the ball in his glove and in the same motion either flip it to the plate or tag Gordon, but he whiffed and whacked Gordon with his fully extended right arm. It bent awkwardly in the collision, causing Mayza to writhe around in the dirt for a few seconds before walking off slowly while clutching his shoulder. Mayza, who’s had a solid season with a 2.88 ERA, is Toronto’s only current left-handed reliever.

Bo Bichette hit a tying two-run homer off Twins starter Dylan Bundy in the fourth inning and an RBI single in the eighth, the only run allowed in five innings by Minnesota’s trade-boosted bullpen.

Jhoan Duran inherited runners at the corners with one out in the eighth and gave up Bichette’s bouncer up the middle, but the right-hander who leads the major leagues in 100 mph pitches handed Matt Chapman his fourth strikeout of the game on a 101 mph heater and retired Whit Merrifield on a fielder’s choice grounder to end the inning with a 5-3 lead.

Trevor Megill (3-1) led off the relief parade with a perfect fifth, and newly acquired closer Jorge Lopez finished up with a hitless ninth after blowing his save chance on Friday night in the 6-5 win by the Twins in 10 innings.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 2 for 5 with a run scored to extend his career-high hitting streak to 17 straight games for the Blue Jays, who lead the AL wild card race. They are three games ahead of Baltimore, the first club below the three-team cut.

The two-time All-Star Guerrero is batting .420 (29 for 69) with eight doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs during his streak.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: CF George Springer landed on the 10-day injured list with lingering inflammation in his right elbow that kept him out of four of the previous five games.

Twins: RF Max Kepler was reinstated from the 10-day injured list, recovered from a broken pinky toe on his right foot. He was hit there by a pitch on July 24.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Kevin Gausman (8-8, 3.06 ERA) pitches the finale of the four-game series. He threw eight shutout innings with just one hit and one walk allowed in his last start against Tampa Bay.

Twins: RHP Chris Archer (2-5, 4.05 ERA) takes the mound on Sunday afternoon. He had a season-high eight strikeouts in his last turn, but he has failed to finish five innings in four straight outings.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.