Kyle Gibson appeared headed for a short outing, and the Minnesota Twins’ playoff outlook looked as shaky as their starting pitcher.
Minnesota’s offense boosted both with a big rally.
Eddie Rosario homered twice, Joe Mauer hit a grand slam and the Twins overcame a five-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 13-7 Sunday and maintain control for the second AL wild card.
Minnesota trailed 5-0 in the second inning after Josh Donaldson’s second homer. Rosario and Byron Buxton hit consecutive homers to start the rally as the Twins burst ahead with a seven-run bottom half that included Jorge Polanco’s tiebreaking RBI grounder.
“You never feel like your offense is going to put up 13 runs,” Gibson said. “But that inning kind of had that kind of a feel. You can see early on when the guys have a lot of confidence. Rosie hits that homer and Buck hit that homer. They both walk by me and say, ‘Hey, we got you. Let’s go.'”
Minnesota pulled away with six runs in the fifth against reliever Chris Rowley. The Twins reopened a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card and closed within four games of the Yankees heading into a three-game series at New York that starts Monday.
Gibson (11-10) allowed five runs, three hits and five walks in six innings while tying a season high with eight strikeouts to help the Twins gain a four-game split.
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor nearly took out Gibson early.
“There was one pitch away a couple of times,” Molitor said. “It’s hard to explain a beginning like that. Of all the things he’s done, this one’s, in some ways, is maybe a little more impressive to give us six innings after that start.”
Joe Biagini (3-11) gave up six runs — four earned — and five hits in 1 1/3 innings for Toronto. He is 0-1 with a 15.00 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances against the Twins.
“I put them in a tough position for what they want to do,” Biagini said. “I don’t blame them for taking me out. I wish I would have gotten a chance to stay in, fight through it and limit the damage. But I understand what they’re thinking, so I don’t blame anybody.”
Rosario also homered in the fifth for his fourth career multihomer game and went deep five times during the homestand. Mauer hit his fourth slam, his first since Sept. 1, 2012, at Kansas City and his first ever at home.
Minnesota tied a franchise record by homering for the 16th consecutive game and has a major league-high 74 since Aug. 8.
Gibson walked four batters as the Blue Jays took a 4-0 lead in the first, and Donaldson homered again in the second. Gibson retired his final 13 batters he faced.
Donaldson had a go-ahead homer in the first, a drive into the third deck in left that would have traveled 481 feet, according to MLB Statcast. It tied for the seventh-longest home run tracked by Statcast this season.
Donaldson reached 30 homers for the third straight season after hitting 29 in 2014. He has an AL-high 21 home runs since the AL break, including consecutive multihomer games.
GIBSON’S RUN SUPPORT
Gibson received double-digit run support for the third time in four starts. He pitched six scoreless innings in a 17-0 win against Kansas City on Sept. 2 and another six scoreless in a 16-0 win in his last outing against San Diego.
“Maybe he knew subconsciously that the double-digit run support was going to come along somewhere along the way,” Molitor joked. “We just kept firing.”
Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce missed his ninth straight game with back soreness. . LHP Brett Anderson threw a bullpen session on Sunday after leaving his last start with a blister on his pitching hand. Gibbons said he should be set to make his start on Wednesday.
Twins: Miguel Sano (left shin stress reaction) is traveling with the team to New York, then will return to Minnesota early as his slow recovery continues.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (11-8, 3.08 ERA) starts on Tuesday as Toronto begins its final homestand of the season with three games against Kansas City. Stroman lost his last start despite giving up two runs — none earned — in six innings against Baltimore. Kansas City counters with RHP Sam Gaviglio (4-5, 4.35).
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (15-7, 3.35) starts for the Twins. New York goes with LHP Jaime Garcia (5-9, 4.35), who started one game for Minnesota this season after he was acquired from Atlanta and then was dealt to New York