Sun, 01 Oct 2023

Hitting-challenged Twins chase series win over Blue Jays

Field Level Media
10 Jun 2023, 16:55 GMT+10

After ending their five-game losing streak, the visiting Minnesota Twins have a chance to take their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

The Twins continued to struggle on offense while winning the series opener 3-2 in 10 innings on Friday night, but their pitchingremained solid.

Michael A. Taylor drove in all three runs for Minnesota with a two-run home run in the fifth inning and a sacrifice fly in the 10th. The Twins caught a break when Ryan Jeffers was able to score on Taylor's fly, as catcher Alejandro Kirk failed to hold on to the ball on the throw from left fielder Whit Merrifield.

Taylor has homered in back-to-back games.

"He's been so valuable for us," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "There's no way around it."

Royce Lewis had a career-best four hits for the Twins, who had scored seven runs in their previous six games combined.

The 10th inning would not have been possible if Minnesota reliever Jhoan Duran had not pitched out of a jam in the ninth, when Toronto had runners at second and third with no outs. Duran also pitched the 10th.

After being swept in three games by the host Tampa Bay Rays, the Twins entered Friday with their record below .500 for the first time this season.

"Everybody feels amazing," Duran said after the win against the Blue Jays. "We had a bad series in Tampa. Winning here in the first game, that's good."

Duran trimmed his ERA to 1.44.

"He made a lot of things happen today," Baldelli said. "Just a heck of an outing from him."

Blue Jays manager John Schneider said, "Our bullpen was good and the defense was solid. We just didn't really get that hit when we needed to."

Toronto center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (wrist) was used only as a pinch runner.

Minnesota second baseman Jorge Polanco (hamstring) did not play and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.

The Twins are scheduled to start right-hander Joe Ryan (7-3, 2.76 ERA) on Saturday. He will be opposing Toronto for the first time in his career.

With struggling right-hander Alek Manoah optioned to the rookie-level Florida Complex League this week, Toronto is expected to give the Saturday start to right-hander Bowden Francis, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to replace Manoah.

Francis could either start or come in after a reliever who is used as an opener. In five minor league outings between Class-A Dunedin and Triple-A Buffalo this year, he was 0-2 with a 2.89 ERA. Francis has made one previous major league appearance, on April 27, 2022, when he threw a scoreless two-thirds of an inning against the Boston Red Sox.

The Blue Jays had won seven of their previous eight games, including the last three of a four-game set against the visiting Houston Astros to start the week, before dropping the opener to the Twins.

Toronto reinstated right-hander Mitch White from the 60-day injured list on Friday and designated right-hander Anthony Bass for assignment. White had been sidelined all season due to right elbow inflammation.

Minnesota put left-hander Caleb Thielbar (oblique) on IL and recalled right-hander Josh Winder from Triple-A Saint Paul. Winder made one appearance for the Twins earlier this season, and he was 3-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 11 relief outings for Saint Paul.

--Field Level Media

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