After rallying for four runs in the eighth inning to pull out a 5-3 victory in Monday’s series opener, the Toronto Blue Jays will try to win back-to-back games for only the second time this season on Tuesday night when they play the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 1.69 ERA) will take the mound for Toronto, which overcame a major baserunning blunder in the sixth inning to defeat the Twins on Monday. Kyle Gibson (0-0, 7.71) will start for Minnesota.
Teoscar Hernandez had three hits in Monday night’s come-from-behind victory, including a 405-foot, three-run homer into the second deck in left field off reliever Adalberto Mejia that proved to be the game-winner in that eighth inning. That atoned for Hernandez’s gaffe on the bases two innings earlier.
Hernandez singled with one out in the sixth and was leading off first base when batter Brandon Drury took off his elbow guard and began jogging down to first base following a called ball. One problem: It was only ball three.
After Hernandez took a few more steps toward second base, Twins starter Martin Perez — at the encouragement of third baseman Willians Astudillo — threw to first in time to get a scrambling Hernandez tagged out. Drury, meanwhile, went back to the batter’s box and eventually walked.
“I think you forget about things like that when you do things good for your team,” Hernandez told MLB.com afterward. “Obviously things happen in the game. Errors that you make mentally. … It was a bad moment. I wasn’t focused enough. But for a player who has this much time playing baseball, that can’t happen again.”
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo, who let both players have it in the dugout afterward, agreed.
“They both have to be in the game,” Montoyo said. “The hitter and the guy at first. There’s no excuses. That was bad baserunning there. But (Hernandez) let it go, which is great, and then he hit the ball out. It’s funny how this game works.”
If there was a positive in the loss for the Twins it was hitting of shortstop Jorge Polanco, who went 3-for-3 with a walk to raise his average to .420, and first baseman C.J. Cron, who homered for the second straight game, this one a 418-foot, three-run blast midway up the second deck in left.
Cron was claimed by the Twins off waivers from Tampa Bay in November after the Rays designated him for assignment following a season in which he hit .253 with 30 home runs, 28 doubles and 74 RBIs.
“I know C.J. well,” first-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who was a coach with Tampa Bay the last four seasons, told reporters. “C.J.’s a guy that hits the ball hard. He impacts the ball. When he’s seeing it good and hitting ball on the barrel (of the bat), we’re going to notice it. … He hits the ball really hard. He hits doubles and homers.”
Baldelli suffered his first ejection as Twins manager in the eighth inning of Monday’s loss after arguing a three-strike call on Cron by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. Estabrook called Cron out even though it appeared Daniel Hudson’s pitch hit both Cron’s fingers and the bat on the swing.
“When C.J.’s out there saying it’s a foul ball and that it hit the bat, I’m going to believe my player and back him,” Baldelli said. “I know Mike behind the plate and he has to make a decision on that. I respect that but also I respect C.J.’s opinion in that situation. Probably a tough call either way.”
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