Minneapolis – The Toronto Blue Jays broke out the big sticks as they over-powered the Minnesota Twins by a final of 13-2.
Edwin Encarnacion started the homer parade as he blasted a two-run shot in the second and followed that up with a solo homer in the fifth. Toronto catcher Jose Molina made it back-to-back jobs in the fifth with a solo blast of his own. This one, an impressive shot to straight-away center field. All of those came off of Francisco Liriano.
AL home run leader Jose Bautista got in on the action in the 7th hitting a 428-foot grand slam to the third deck in left off of Twins reliever Pat Neshek. Travis Snyder continued the power surge in the 8th with a two-run bomb off of Jeff Manship. Bautista capped things in the ninth with a solo homer to left field off of Jose Mijares.
Jays starter Shawn Hill no-hit the Twins through four and one-third inning before third baseman Danny Valencia broke it up with a double down the left-field line in the fifth. Valencia came around to score on a Drew Butera double.
Twins starter Francisco Liriano couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning, surrendering five earned runs over his 91 pitches. His stuff was still there, evidenced by his six strikeouts, but his control was off, and when he had to come over the plate with his fastball, Jays hitters jumped all over him.
After the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said about his team’s pitching struggles, “It’s a different atmosphere when get to the playoffs, but it’s not fun. I can tell you that. That’s not the way you want to go into it pitching like this.”
About Liriano’s night, pitching coach Rick Anderson said, “Frankie threw the ball well, made a couple of mistakes up and they weren’t forgiving. The approach has been all year … don’t go try and strike everyone out and you see a lot of times tonight he’d get ahead of guys and next thing you know it’s 3-2 and then you gotta come in to them.”
With Tampa Bay dropping a game in Kansas City, they’re now tied with the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East; both teams are now one game ahead of the Twins for best record in the AL with three games remaining.
Game two of the four-game series comes Friday night. Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.83) faces Toronto’s Ricky Romero (13-9, 3.79). First pitch is at 7:10pm. Mike Max leads up to the game with “Best Twins Coverage” on WCCO starting at 6:15pm.