Russell Martin, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion homered to power the Toronto Blue Jays past the Athletics 7-1 on Tuesday night in Donaldson's return to Oakland.
Donaldson doubled twice and drove in a run after starting 0 for 3.
"I have my teammates doing their thing, which made it easier for me," the All-Star third baseman said. "They're dangerous and they're just good hitters. You look at our lineup and you go one through nine and you go, 'Where's the out at?'"
Martin hit a three-run shot to chase former Blue Jays right-hander Kendall Graveman (6-6) in the sixth. Bautista and Encarnacion both connected for a solo shot.
Mark Buehrle (11-5) allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings. The left-hander struck out three and walked none as the Blue Jays improved to 3-1 since the All-Star break.
Buehrle has given up two earned runs or fewer in nine straight starts.
But the game belonged to Donaldson, a former fan favourite at the Coliseum who has blossomed into one of baseball's best players. The A's surprisingly sent Donaldson to Toronto last November for Graveman, third baseman Brett Lawrie, lefty Sean Nolin and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Donaldson was amped up and motivated as soon as the team arrived in the Bay Area.
"Donaldson said to me last night on the bus, he said, 'This is my town.' I looked outside and I said, 'I'm glad it's yours not mine,'" Gibbons said.
Donaldson admitted he had some nerves. He was cheered during pregame introductions and pulled the bill of his batting helmet down to acknowledge the crowd when he was announced at the plate in the first inning.
"I've really never been put in that position before, so it was kind of a new experience," he said. "But I'm very grateful."
Encarnacion hit his 19th homer leading off the second, and Bautista connected on the first pitch he saw in the sixth. Graveman then walked the next two batters before Martin hit a drive to left for his 13th homer.
Bautista became the third player in franchise history to hit 20 home runs in at least six straight seasons, joining Joe Carter (7) and Carlos Delgado (9).
Graveman, who made five relief appearances with Toronto last September, gave up six hits and walked three in 5 1-3 innings.
"I didn't make pitches," he said. "When I made mistakes, they hit it. I have to be better with my location."
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez allowed two runs and recorded two outs in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Buffalo. Gibbons had said if Sanchez pitched well he could join the Blue Jays bullpen Thursday.
Athletics: OF Coco Crisp (strained neck) participated in batting practice and could begin a minor league rehab assignment soon. ... Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (strained right shoulder) will throw one inning right-handed for Class-A Stockton on Thursday. ... Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) played catch out to 105 feet and is expected to throw a bullpen session by the end of the month.
HEART & HUSTLE
Donaldson and A's catcher Stephen Vogt were announced as their team's nominee for the Heart and Hustle Award. The award, created in 2005 by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, honours active players who "demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game." The winner will be announced on Nov. 1.
Toronto signed reliever Joba Chamberlain to a minor league contract. The right-hander was released by Detroit on July 10. In 30 games with the Tigers this season, Chamberlain was 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA. He had 15 strikeouts in 22 innings.
Blue Jays: LHP Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will make just his fourth start this season Wednesday night against Oakland. He'll try to secure his spot in the rotation after a rough outing in Kansas City before the All-Star break, when he allowed five earned runs — and seven total — in five innings.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (10-4, 2.29 ERA) will try to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season. He allowed five runs in six innings in a 5-0 loss to the Twins on Friday. He gave up two home runs, including the first grand slam of his career.