First-year Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli will try to put an end to the first losing streak of his managing career on Wednesday night when the Twins host Toronto at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 6.35 ERA), who pitched six one-hit innings with 11 strikeouts in his only previous start at Target Field on March 30 against the Cleveland Indians, will take the mound for Minnesota against rookie Trent Thornton (0-1, 4.61).
Odorizzi is 5-3 in his career against the Blue Jays with a 3.21 ERA over 89 2/3 innings, all coming in 15 starts.
Toronto needs to win just one of the final two games of the series which concludes on Thursday afternoon to claim its first series victory of the season. And the Blue Jays can thank left fielder Teoscar Hernandez for being in that position.
It was Hernandez’s three-run homer in the eighth inning that rallied Toronto to a 5-3 victory in Monday night’s opener. He followed that up with a two-run single in the seventh inning on Tuesday night to break a 4-4 tie in an eventual 6-5 win on Tuesday night that ended with Hernandez helping throw out the tying run at the plate for the game’s final out.
Marwin Gonzalez opened the bottom of the ninth with a long home run to dead center off closer Ken Giles to bring the Twins to within a run. Nelson Cruz walked but was replaced at first base by C.J. Cron on a fielder’s choice.
After Giles struck out Mitch Garver, Byron Buxton lined a double into the corner in left where Hernandez retrieved the ball and threw it to cutoff man Freddy Galvis. Galvis then threw the ball to catcher Danny Jansen who tagged a sliding Cron at the plate to end the game.
“It was a perfect relay,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo told MLB.com. “Of course, everybody is thinking about Galvis making that throw, but to me, the big one was Teoscar getting the ball quick and making a perfect throw to Galvis. When Galvis throws the ball, everybody expects it to be right there. But to me, the main guy was Teoscar getting the ball quick and making a great throw to Galvis.”
“We’ve been practicing that relay since spring,” Jansen said. “That’s the first time we’ve kind of had one at home plate like that. And Teoscar made a really nice throw to Freddy and Freddy then threw it right to my chest. Gave (Cron) the plate and then took it away.”
Baldelli said he agreed with the decision to send Cron even through the ball arrived at home plate in plenty of time for Jansen to make the tag.
“I thought it was a really good send by (third base coach Tony Diaz),” Baldelli said. “We’re going to take that chance every time. Cron was hauling and gave us an opportunity to send him and they made a good relay and ultimately a good throw to the plate and got us. It was a well-executed play and I think the right move on our part too.”
The Blue Jays will now try for their first three-game winning streak of the season on Wednesday night.
“We’re kind of a gritty team right now, and we’re battling and trying to grind out games,” Jansen said. “And that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”
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