Donaldson hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Tigers 6-1
TORONTO (AP) All-Star slugger Josh Donaldson said the first half of Toronto's season has been ''a little bit of a roller coaster.''
That ride is heading upwards as the first half ends.
Donaldson hit a three-run homer, R.A. Dickey won back-to-back starts for the first time in a month and the Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 6-1 on Sunday in the teams' final game before the All-Star break.
Toronto heads into the break having won eight of nine and 18 of 25. The Blue Jays are second to Baltimore in the AL East and tied with Boston for the first wild-card spot.
''We feel pretty good with where we're at right now,'' Donaldson said. ''We've been playing well as of late. Hopefully have a nice break, everybody comes back ready to go and continue this momentum.''
Dickey said Toronto's recent surge feels like ''it could be a sustained thing.''
Donaldson is the sixth player in American League history to hit at least 20 home runs and score 80 runs or more before the All-Star break. The others were Lou Gehrig (1936), Ted Williams (1946), Reggie Jackson (1969), Frank Thomas (1994), and Alex Rodriguez (2000).
''I think that has something to do with the guys hitting behind me,'' Donaldson said, referring to slugger Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders. Bautista is currently recovering from a sore left big toe. Encarnacion and Saunders will be joining Donaldson for the All-Star Game in San Diego.
Donaldson is the first player to score 80 or more runs before the break since 2008, when Ian Kinsler (84) and Hanley Ramirez (80) both did it.
Dickey (7-9) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings to win consecutive starts for the first time since victories at Boston on June 3 and at Detroit on June 8.
''We didn't do much against Dickey,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. ''We hit a couple of balls hard early and after that he settled in. He did a very nice job.''
Jesse Chavez got two outs in the eighth and Brett Cecil got the third. Bo Schultz finished for Toronto, which has won eight of 11 against Detroit.
The Blue Jays took a 2-0 led against Anibal Sanchez (5-10) in the second when catcher Josh Thole hit a bases-loaded single. For Thole, the RBIs were his first since hitting a solo home run at Tampa Bay on April 4, Toronto's second game of the season.
Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, made it 5-0 with a two-out drive in the fourth, his 23rd.
Saunders made it 6-1 with an RBI single off Kyle Ryan in the eighth.
Sanchez lost his second straight start, allowing five runs and eight hits in four innings. He has lost seven straight decisions as a starter, including five in a row on the road.
''I want to make the second half strong,'' Sanchez said. ''Right now I can say I had the worst first half of my whole career. I've got to continue working.''
Encarnacion sat out after dropping his appeal of a one-game suspension for making contact with umpire Vic Carapazza. An All-Star this season for the third time, Encarnacion was suspended for bumping Carapazza's shoulder after being ejected at the end of the first inning in Toronto's 19-inning loss to Cleveland on July 1.
THIS IS 40
Toronto continued its 40th season celebrations with a pregame ceremony honoring several former Blue Jays, including Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, slugger Joe Carter and two-time World Series-winning manager Cito Gaston.
Tigers: OF J.D. Martinez (right elbow) is taking swings but is still ''a few weeks away'' from a return, Ausmus said.
Blue Jays: Donaldson started at DH for the second straight day, with Darwin Barney at 3B.
Tigers: Following the All-Star break, RHP Justin Verlander (8-6, 4.07) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Kansas City. Verlander has won once in his past four starts.
Blue Jays: Toronto heads on the road after the All-Star break, with RHP Marcus Stroman (7-4, 4.89) starting the opener of a three-game series at Oakland. Stroman allowed two runs in eight innings to beat Kansas City on July 6.