The Minnesota Twins have picked a bad time to go into a mini-slump, but maintain the second wild card spot in the American League heading into the rubber match of their three-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto on Sunday. The Blue Jays outlasted the Twins 10-9 on Saturday, but Minnesota leads Seattle by one-half game in the postseason chase after the Mariners lost to the Yankees 6-3 in New York on Saturday.
Toronto sits five games behind the Twins but doesn’t have a realistic chance of making the playoffs for the third straight season with six teams to climb over. Josh Donaldson is doing his best to keep the Blue Jays relevant as the slugging third baseman homered Saturday for his third in five games and 12th in 83 August at-bats after hitting 11 in his first 226 at-bats of the season. Joe Mauer has gone 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored in each of his last two games and is batting .438 in his past 16 contests for Minnesota, which is 3-4 on its eight-game road trip. The Twins’ Kyle Gibson is coming off his best outing of the season and opposes Joe Biagini, who is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to make his first start since July 2.
TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), Sportsnet (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Kyle Gibson (7-10, 5.76 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Joe Biagini (3-8, 5.11)
Gibson allowed a run, seven hits and a walk while striking out a season-high eight in a 4-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago on Tuesday. The 29-year-old Indiana native was 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in his previous three starts. Donaldson is 4-for-8 with a home run while Kendrys Morales is 5-for-23 with a homer versus Gibson, who is 1-1 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts against Toronto.
Biagini prepared for his return to the show by making four starts with Buffalo, going 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 17 1/3 innings and throwing 86 pitches in his last outing Tuesday. The 27-year-old Californian is 2-7 with a 5.60 ERA in 11 starts with the Blue Jays this season after yielding seven runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 15-1 loss to Boston on July 2 in his last major-league start. Biagini allowed one run and three hits over two innings in a pair of relief appearances versus Minnesota last season.
1. Twins SS Jorge Polanco (.251 batting average this season) is 9-for-27 with four home runs and 11 RBIs on the road trip.
2. Donaldson is batting .376 with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs in 35 career games versus Minnesota.
3. Toronto has won 11 of the last 13 meetings, including eight of the last nine at Rogers Centre.
PREDICTION: Twins 3, Blue Jays 2