Josh Donaldson showed no signs of rust in his first game action since late-May, batting second and playing third base for Dunedin on Tuesday night at Dunedin Stadium. A six-run fifth inning handed the Blue Jays a loss at the hands of the Palm Beach Cardinals, but all signs were positive for the former American League MVP as we works to return from a calf strain that placed him on the 60-day disabled list.
The first batter of the ballgame topped a bounding ground ball to Donaldson at third, who scooped it and made a strong throw across the diamond to record the out. He wouldn't see another play in the field until the fifth inning, when Palm Beach's Shane Billings singled past a diving Donaldson into left.
After 2B Logan Warmoth led off the home half of the first with a double, Donaldson worked an eight-pitch walk in his first at-bat since May 28. A pair of strikeouts and a fly out allowed Cardinals starter Ian Oxnevad to work out of the early jam without damage.
He wouldn't be as fortunate in the second. LF Ivan Castillo stretched a leadoff single to center into a hustle double to open the frame. CF Rodrigo Orozco, in the heat of a Florida State League batting title chase, followed by drilling a base hit up the middle to score Castillo and put Dunedin up 1-0. With a 2-4 night, Orozco broke a three-way tie at the top of the FSL's batting charts, improving his batting average to .303 and putting himself in first place for the batting title with five games remaining.
Warmoth knocked another extra base hit to lead off the third, tripling to the right field corner. Donaldson stepped to the plate and laced a single past the shortstop into left to plate Warmoth and put Dunedin up 2-0. In-game Statcast systems clocked the exit velocity of Donaldson's base hit at 110 miles per hour.
After holding the Cardinals hitless through the first three innings, Dunedin starter RHP Maverik Buffo began to falter in the fourth. Elehuris Montero knocked a two-out single and Scott Hurst followed with a bloop double to left, cutting the Dunedin lead in half at 2-1.
The wheels fell off for Buffo in the fifth. With one out, he allowed a double, a single, a walk, another double, a second walk, a fielder's choice, and a three-run home run to Hurst. When the dust had cleared, Palm Beach had scored six runs and taken a 7-2 lead.
Dunedin turned to RHP Nick Hartman out of the pen, who delivered 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Palm Beach added three more runs in the eighth off LHP Angel Perdomo, who walked three batters in the inning.
Trailing 10-2, the Dunedin offense was unable to score again against Oxnevad (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) and the Palm Beach bullpen (4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R).
The loss eliminates Dunedin from contention for the North Division playoffs while drawing their overall season record even at 66-66. The Blue Jays and Cardinals will continue their four-game set at Dunedin Stadium on Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM with RHP Patrick Murphy (10-5, 2.67 ERA) taking the mound for the Jays.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.