TORONTO—Even in an MVP-calibre season, Josh Donaldson finds new ways to impress.
Toronto’s third baseman drove in a run in the first inning and two in the second, upping his MLB-leading RBI total to 111, in the Blue Jays’ 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians last night.
He also showed off his hustle and athleticism—diving though the air to evade catcher Yan Gomes’ tag and score on a shallow sacrifice fly ball by Troy Tulowitzki in the second.
“It’s gotten to the point where nothing this guy does surprises you any more. I mean, he’s a super-hero, really,” said Jays’ starter R.A. Dickey, who threw a complete-game four-hitter.
“He is in a special place right now.”
“He’s on a mission,” echoed Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
Donaldson played down his second-inning heroics, saying he just saw the opportunity with second baseman Jason Kipnis back-peddling to get to the ball.
“So I took it,” he said.
With the sell-out crowd chanting M-V-P, Donaldson singled and doubled twice before Cleveland finally induced him to ground out in the seventh inning.
And Donaldson made that play close at the bag.
In the third, he challenged Indians’ left-fielder Michael Brantley and won—turning a single into a double.
It was Donaldson’s 48th multi-hit game and 14th three-hit game this season.
His RBI total is the most by a Blue Jay since Jose Bautista’s 124 in 2010.
The surging Jays (76-57) have won 10 of their last 12 and are 31-11 since the all-star break.
They are 33-13 in their last 46 home games.
Still, the N.Y. Yankees dumped Boston 13-8 earlier in the day to remain 1.5 games back of the Jays in the AL East.
Dickey (10-10) retired the Indians in order in seven of his nine innings, dispatching 14-straight batters at one point for his 99th career win and 15th complete game.
“Dickey was so good . . . he just threw a lot of strikes,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
“First time through, you saw him show the fastball and then go to the knuckleball.
“Once he got it rolling, man, for a ball to move that much and for him to command it that well, it was really impressive,” Francona added.
Toronto continued its onslaught on opposition pitching, leading 5-0 after two innings with the Rogers Centre roof open on a sticky September night before 46,538—the 15th sell-out of the season.
Cleveland certainly was sweating, using four pitchers in the first four innings.
Dickey, meanwhile, shut the door on Cleveland as the Indians (64-68) lost their second-straight after a six-game win streak.
The 40-year-old knuckleballer retired Cleveland’s first nine batters.
Dickey is the first Toronto pitcher to go 7-0 after the all-star break since Roger Clemens back in 1998.
“I’ll tell you what’s worked is the bats have exploded when I pitch,” Dickey chuckled.
Tulowitzki drove in Toronto’s other two runs.
Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion, who had his 26-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday, had a walk in four at-bats to extend his on-base streak to 33 games
Toronto has an off day today before hosting the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
Elsewhere in the AL, Minnesota blanked Chicago 3-0, L.A. beat Oakland 9-4, Baltimore topped Tampa Bay 7-6 (11 innings), Kansas City routed Detroit 12-1, and Seattle upended Houston 8-3.