The Minnesota Twins blew a grand opportunity to create a bit of separation between themselves and the Los Angeles Angels in the wild-card race by losing a rare five-game series to the worst team in the American League. The Twins will attempt to right the ship against another AL cellar-dweller starting on Friday, when they begin a three-game set with the host Toronto Blue Jays.
Minnesota won the final four contests of a six-game homestand from Aug. 15-20 and claimed two of its first three in Chicago to begin the week before the White Sox countered with a pair of triumphs over their division rival. The Twins managed to hold on to their slim one-half game advantage for the second and final wild-card slot in the AL, however, as the Angels also lost for the second straight night against Texas. Toronto returns home after a frustrating 1-5 road trip during which four of the five defeats were by two runs or fewer, including three by one run. After belting six homers - the most the club has hit in a game since 2012 - in Wednesday’s 7-6 win over Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays managed only six singles the following night and were shut out for the fifth time this season in the rubber match against the Rays.
TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), Sportsnet, TVA (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Bartolo Colón (5-10, 6.66 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (6-9, 3.90)
Colon became the 18th pitcher to record a victory against all 30 teams on Sunday against Arizona, permitting four runs on seven hits - three homers - and a pair of walks in six innings. After going 0-3 with a 9.39 ERA over five combined turns in June and July, the four-time All-Star is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four outings this month. Colon won in Toronto as a member of the Atlanta Braves on May 15 after yielding three runs - two earned - over five innings, improving to 11-6 with a 4.23 ERA in 27 starts against the Blue Jays.
Although he struck out eight batters and seven of the nine hits he allowed were singles, Happ still was reached for five runs over as many innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs last Friday, ending his three-start winning streak. Despite the rough outing, the Northwestern product has fared well in four turns this month, posting a 3-1 record and 3.04 ERA over that time. Brian Dozier is 3-for-10 with two home runs versus Happ, who is 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Twins.
1. Twins OF Byron Buxton, who homered for the team’s only run Thursday, is batting .333 since July 4.
2. The Blue Jays have scored 276 of their 541 runs via the homer. The resulting rate of 51 percent of runs scored from blasts is the highest in the majors.
3. Minnesota placed C Jason Castro on the seven-day concussion list and recalled OF Zack Granite from Triple-A Rochester.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 5, Twins 4