MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Scoring a lot of runs early in the game has played a big part in Minnesota’s surprisingly strong start this season.
It’s the later innings that haven’t been as fruitful for the Twins, who were shut down by Mark Buehrle on Friday night and saw their five-game winning streak snapped with a 6-4 loss.
Minnesota scored four runs off Buehrle in the first inning before the veteran lefty made a drastic recovery for his second complete game this season. Chris Colabello hit a two-run tiebreaking homer in the ninth against former teammate Glen Perkins.
Buehrle (6-4) retired 24 of the last 26 batters he faced, allowing one single. The other reached on an error.
“A little frustrating for us to lose a game when you get four in the first inning off a guy like that,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And as we know that he can, obviously he settled in. Complete game after that start, that’s pretty impressive by him.”
The Twins have scored 107 of their 216 runs this season in the first three innings — they have scored a combined 105 in the fourth through ninth innings, and another four in extras.
Things again looked good early when Brian Dozier hit his first pitch for a double, Joe Mauer tacked on an RBI single, Torii Hunter added an RBI double and Kurt Suzuki pitched in an RBI single before a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Escobar.
That was it for the Twins, though. Then Buehrle went to work.
“We came out hot and he was able to keep his composure, and you’ve got to tip your cap to a guy like that,” Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe said. “I think someone was warming up in the first inning and he ended up going a complete game. The guy’s a great pitcher.”
Toronto’s Josh Donaldson homered for the fourth straight game, a three-run shot off starter Trevor May in the fifth that tied the game.
“Up to that point I think I was playing with fire all game,” May said. “Kind of being behind guys, not really getting ahead or commanding anything very well. Those are the things that happen eventually when you kind of don’t really get any flow going.”
Perkins (0-1), the major league leader in saves, started fresh in the ninth inning after 10 straight outs by the Blue Jays. Russell Martin drew a walk after falling behind 0-2, and Colabello followed with his dramatic drive into the bullpen behind left-center field.
“People make adjustments to us and sometimes we don’t always add on the way everyone would like to see,” Molitor said. “The run totals are fine. It’s just that we have the tendency to put a lot up early and then at times we see the zeros start coming, but I’m not overly concerned about that.”
NOT SO FAST
Dozier threw out Jose Reyes at third after the speedy infielder doubled to right in the second to score Kevin Pillar. Hunter hit Dozier, who made a nice relay to Plouffe to get Reyes for the final out.
“I knew we were getting him, yeah for sure,” Plouffe said. “That ball’s a lot quicker than any runner. So when he started coming I said, ‘Let’s go.’ And I know if (Dozier) made a good throw, I knew we had him. And he made a perfect throw.”
The first pitch was pushed back an hour, the second time setback this week for the Twins. Because of afternoon games and the delays, they haven’t taken batting practice on the field in a week. Still, this was only the 16th weather delay in Target Field’s six-year history. They have had 11 games postponed and one suspended.
Toronto: Manager John Gibbons said IF Devon Travis could return next week at Washington, if he continues to make progress on his rehab assignment.
Minnesota: RHP Casey Fien came off the DL to pitch a scoreless eighth. Molitor said Blaine Boyer will remain the primary setup man for now.
Aaron Sanchez (4-4, 3.98 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season for Toronto on Saturday afternoon, seeking his second win in five road starts. Kyle Gibson (4-3, 2.72 ERA) will take the mound for Minnesota for the 10th time this year, too, coming of a career-long-matching eight innings in an 8-1 victory at Chicago last week. Gibson is 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA this month.
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