MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Despite 10 home runs in 10 career games at Target Field, Jose Bautista said there isn’t anything special about the Minnesota Twins’ ballpark that helps him find his swing.
It has more to do with the opposing pitching staff than the stadium.
“Aggressive pitching staff, they throw strikes,” Bautista said after Toronto beat Minnesota 2-1 on Saturday night. “Missed some today, but I got the one that counted and it’s good enough for the win.”
Bautista homered for the third time in two nights and Drew Hutchison threw six strong innings for his second career win.
Bautista has nine hits over his past 53 at-bats, but five of them have been home runs. He hit two in Friday night’s loss, and his sixth-inning solo shot against Twins starter P.J. Walters (0-1) was the game-winner on Saturday.
“There was not a lot of video on him, so we didn’t really know if he had a preference on each side of the plate,” Bautista said of Walters.
“We just went out there and tried to get a good pitch to hit. He gave me a couple, but I managed to get the one that we needed.”
It was all the Blue Jays needed, with the Twins sputtering offensively and Hutchison showing poise in just his fifth appearance above Double-A.
Hutchinson (2-1) allowed three hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Minnesota’s run came in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk.
“He bends, but he doesn’t break,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “Tonight, much like we’ve seen in a couple other outings, there’s that one inning where he’ll contribute to some trouble on the base paths, some traffic. But he kept away from the big inning.”
Francisco Cordero, Jason Frasor and Luis Perez combined for two innings of scoreless relief, and Casey Janssen picked up his second save in as many chances since taking over as closer for Cordero earlier in the week.
Walters made his Twins debut starting in place of Francisco Liriano, who was demoted to the bullpen earlier in the week. He pitched well in his first major league start since 2010, when he played for St. Louis, allowing six hits in six innings while striking out five.
“Obviously a little nervous getting out there the first inning or so, a few too many pitches, that type of thing,” Walters said. “After that, I settled down and made some good pitches when I needed to.”
The struggling Twins offense couldn’t come up with a timely hit. Minnesota went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners over the final four innings.
“We had plenty of chances, but it just didn’t work out for us tonight,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Hutchison breezed through his first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth, when he gave up the bases-loaded walk to Trevor Plouffe to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. The Jays tied it the next inning on Adam Lind’s RBI single that scored Colby Rasmus.
Brian Dozier led off the sixth with a double off Hutchison, and Josh Willingham drew a one-out walk two batters later. But Hutchinson struck out Ryan Doumit and got Plouffe on a groundout.
“The sixth inning might have been a growing experience for him tonight,” Farrell said.
Notes: Farrell picked up his 100th win as a manager. … Twins slugger Justin Morneau (wrist) said he felt good after taking 25-30 swings off a tee before Saturday’s game and was hopeful he’d be able to play once he’s eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday. “We’ll see once I start swinging more how everything goes, I’m pretty happy so far,” the former AL MVP said. … Bautista also has 10 homers in 28 games at Fenway Park. “There’s an energy that you feel that he will give off when he’s swinging the bat like he’s capable,” Farrell said before the game. “I think it just adds to the overall momentum that we can generate as a club and as a lineup.” … The Blue Jays and Twins wrap up their four-game series on Sunday when Toronto sends lefty Ricky Romero to the mound to face Minnesota’s Scott Diamond.
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