TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Drabek didn’t feel he had his best stuff. The Minnesota Twins would rather avoid facing him when he does.
Drabek pitched seven innings of one-hit ball to earn his first major league win, Jose Molina and Jayson Nix hit solo home runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Twins 6-1 on Saturday.
“The control of my pitches wasn’t the best today,” Drabek said. “It was just the situations when I needed a good pitch, it was there. That helped me out a bunch.”
Catcher Molina said Drabek’s cutter was his most effective pitch.
“He had a great cutter today,” Molina said. “He used it at any time, 3-2, 3-0. Any type of situation, we used it.”
Drabek (1-0) didn’t allow a hit until Denard Span’s one-out single to left in the sixth, but followed that by striking out Tsuyoshi Nishioka looking and getting Joe Mauer to ground out.
Drabek said he was aware he was working on a no-hitter, but was able to put it out of his mind.
“When you go out on that mound you’ve got to still think about your plan for the hitters that are coming up,” he said. “You kind of forget about it.”
Even after looking at his single on video in the clubhouse, Span wasn’t sure what pitch he’d hit.
“It was a cutter, I think,” Span said. “I don’t know. That’s how nasty (Drabek) was today. I just saw the ball and reacted. Thank God we didn’t get no-hit today.”
Drabek, who went 0-3 in three starts last September, allowed one run, walked three and struck out a career-high seven.
The son of former NL Cy Young winner Doug Drabek and the first player acquired in the Roy Halladay trade to reach the majors with Toronto, the right-hander gave up just one fly ball and got 12 ground ball outs, including one double play.
“Definitely a tough day,” Span said. “Nobody put the bat on the ball good off this guy.”
Shawn Camp pitched the eighth and Marc Rzepczynski worked the ninth as Toronto improved to 30-12 against Minnesota since the beginning of the 2006 season. The Blue Jays have won 15 of 20 home games against the Twins over that span.
Molina opened the third with a homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left and Nix made it 2-0 with a one-out drive to left in the fourth.
The Blue Jays chased Liriano in the fifth. Jose Bautista drew a one-out walk and Kevin Slowey came on in relief after Adam Lind singled. Edwin Encarnacion greeted Slowey with an RBI single and, one out later, pinch-hitter Travis Snider laced a two-run double to right.
Liriano (0-1) was charged with four runs and four hits. He walked five and struck out three.
Liriano fell to 0-3 with a 5.09 ERA in four career games against Toronto and became the second Twins starter in as many days to fail to pitch out of the fifth, after Carl Pavano allowed eight runs in four-plus innings in Friday’s season opener, a 13-3 loss for Minnesota.
That’s not our plan,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re already running guys out there back to back. That’s too many pitches from our bullpen and not enough from our starters.”
Toronto tacked on one more in the eighth against Matt Capps. Molina, Mike McCoy and Escobar all singled to load the bases for Aaron Hill, who hit a sacrifice fly to left.
Minnesota’s only run came in the fourth when Nishioka walked and stole second, went to third on a grounder and scored on Justin Morneau’s ground ball.
After going 0 for 4 Friday in his return from a concussion, Morneau went hitless again but drew a walk in the seventh.
Notes: Blue Jays CF Rajai Davis was scratched from the lineup and replaced by McCoy. Davis rolled his right ankle while evading a rundown in the first inning Friday. He took batting practice Saturday but had trouble pushing off. … Twins RHP Nick Blackburn faces Toronto lefty Brett Cecil in Sunday’s series finale. … Lind’s fifth-inning single was the 500th hit of his career.
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