Sun, 24 Sep 2023

Twins stumbling into Toronto to face hot Jays

Field Level Media
09 Jun 2023, 17:19 GMT+10

The Minnesota Twins will try to end their five-game losing streak Friday night in Toronto when they open a three-game series against the surging Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays have won three in a row -- and nine of their past 11 -- after a 3-2 victory Thursday night that allowed them to take a four-game series from the visiting Houston Astros.

The Twins lost the finale of a three-game set against the host Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Thursday.

"We had our chances," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We had our opportunities. We had some hard-hit balls, especially in the second and third games of the series. None of it amounted to anything. We're going to stay at it and keep working."

The Twins were held to three runs in the series against the Rays and dropped one game below .500 for the first time this season.

"We trust the guys we've got in this room, and that's all we can do," Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers said. "I think as soon as you start to panic, as soon as you start to doubt yourself, doubt the guys around you, that's when you don't come out of those trenches. I think we're in a little lull right here, but we'll still keep playing baseball, playing hard, and that's going to change."

The Twins have had some bad luck. In the first inning Thursday, for example, second baseman Jorge Polanco's shot deflected off Rays starter Yonny Chirinos, hit second-base umpire Jeff Nelson and ricocheted toward second, where Tampa Bay got the forceout.

Polanco arrived at first base in discomfort. He was removed from the game with what the Twins referred to as hamstring tightness.

The Twins hope to improve their fortunes on Friday when they are scheduled to start right-hander Sonny Gray (4-1, 2.15 ERA). Gray is 4-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) against Toronto.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to start left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (6-2, 4.40). In four career starts against Minnesota, he is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

The Blue Jays won two of three from the Twins late last month in Minneapolis.

In the three wins against Houston, they had solid starting pitching from Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt and Jose Berrios. They also took advantage of some shoddy play by the Astros on Thursday, both in the field and on the bases.

The good pitching gave the Blue Jays a chance to capitalize on Houston's mistakes.

"It starts and ends with starting pitching," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "You look at Kev, Chris and Jose tonight -- it puts you in a good spot."

Berrios allowed two runs in six innings Thursday. Over his past 11 starts, he is 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA.

After a poor season in 2022 and a slow start to this season, Berrios is brimming with confidence.

"It's really high," Berrios said. "I've been able to throw the ball pretty well so far. Having a night like tonight, I didn't even have a lot of swing and miss or strikeouts, but we still had a lot of ground balls and got the hitters out. I have that confidence to keep pitching, keep competing."

Toronto center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game in the fourth inning after being hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the second inning. X-rays were negative.

--Field Level Media

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