TORONTO -- As the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has proven time and again that he is an athlete not only capable of reaching individual heights, but also, making plays to benefit the team.
Donaldson did a little bit of everything in leading the Blue Jays to a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, a victory that helped Toronto stave off elimination for one day.
Donaldson belted his first postseason home run, drew a walk and made a diving stop on a sharply hit ground ball from Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana in what was a one-run game at the time.
“Josh is a very emotional guy,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He's vocal. He's a lot like because (Jose) Bautista. He's going to say what's on his mind, good and bad, but that's really his personality. He's a fun-loving guy before a game starts, but when a game starts, he flips that switch and he's all business.
“Really, I've never seen anybody like that, because he is so very intense, but guys thrive off of that. They expect that out of him.”
Starting pitcher Corey Kluber and the Indians were just one strike away from getting out of the third inning in a scoreless tie with the Blue Jays in Game 4, but in front of the home fans, Donaldson had other ideas.
On a 2-2 pitch from Kluber with two out after swinging third strikes from Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista, Donaldson belted his first postseason home run over the wall in left field. Donaldson’s home run was the first run given up by Kluber during three starts this postseason.
The Donaldson homer gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead, which marked the first time since Game 1 of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox that the Indians did not score before their opponents.
After catcher Roberto Perez drove in a run in the top of the fifth, the Indians looked as though they may even the score when designated hitter Carlos Santana hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of the infield. However, Donaldson made a diving stop in the hole near shortstop and fired a throw to first for the final out of the inning.
“Josh, not only does he get big hits on the offensive side, he'll pull out some big-time plays,” Gibbons said. “I don't think he probably gets the credit he deserves, a good defender he is.
“And not that he gets overlooked, but I think people recognize him for his offense, but he's a hell of a defender, too. Even to get into the postseason when we were battling hard, because that could have gone either way, some big, big plays, some chop balls on the line. He's got that knack.
“He's never a guy that takes his hitting out to the field. Some guys do that, but he's not one of those guys. So he locks in on defense and really just a really good, all-around player is what he is. But it doesn't surprise me. He's been known to do the right thing at the right time, offense or defense.”