The American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins will try for their fifth series sweep of the season and third straight shutout on Wednesday night at Toronto.
Kyle Gibson (2-1, 4.68 ERA), who is 3-1 with a 5.01 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue Jays, will face fellow right-hander Trent Thornton (0-3, 4.08 ERA), who is still in search of his first major league victory. Thornton, who will be making his eighth career start, gave up six hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings and took the loss in a 4-1 setback to the Twins on April 17 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Gibson, coming off a 6-3 loss to the Yankees on Friday night in New York that saw him gave up seven hits and five runs (two earned) in five innings, has some big shoes to fill for Minnesota.
Both Martin Perez and Jose Berrios tossed seven shutout innings in the first two games of the series, an 8-0 win on Monday night and a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. It marked the first time since June 2-4, 2013, against the Mariners and Royals that Minnesota pitchers have thrown consecutive shutouts. In seven games since May 1, Twins starters have a combined 1.40 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 45 innings.
“As a whole, our pitching has been phenomenal,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told twincities.com before Tuesday night’s victory. “There have been games in which they have taken the game in their hands and won the game for us and they kept us in many, many other games. If we keep this going, we’re going to be OK.”
Gibson had a no-decision against the Blue Jays in a 6-5 loss on April 16 at Target Field, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He is 1-1 with a 7.56 ERA in three career starts in Toronto.
Toronto has dropped seven of its last eight games with the lone win coming in 12 innings on an unearned run, 1-0, at Texas last Friday. The Blue Jays, who held a hitter’s meeting before Tuesday night’s latest shutout loss, have scored just 16 runs in their last eight games.
“Honestly, the last two days it has been (Minnesota’s) pitching,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters. “Perez came in hot pitching really well and Berrios is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Not making excuses. They’re coming in hot into town, those two guys. That’s a good lineup. That’s a good team. And their pitching has been really good.”
On Tuesday, the Blue Jays wasted a quality start by Aaron Sanchez — seven innings, three runs, six hits, three walks and six strikeouts. Catcher Mitch Garver, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk, hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning for the key blow for the Twins.
“I was really impressed (with Sanchez),” Montoyo said. “He minimized damaged in the first inning (when he walked in a run) and started throwing strikes and getting people out early in the count. He was outstanding. He gave us a chance. One bad pitch to Garver, who’s hot, and other than that he was outstanding.”
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