It was a sloppy game all around in this matchup between a couple of teams at the bottom of the standings, but the Toronto Blue Jays just did just enough against the Minnesota Twins to beat them 6-5 at Target Field.
The sloppiness started with pitch 1, when Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon booted a routine Jose Reyes grounder, then on pitch 5, starter Mike Pelfrey and catcher Josmil Pinto got crossed up resulting in a wild pitch that got Reyes to second. A Rajai Davis ground out and an Edwin Encarnacion deep fly later, the Jays were up 1-0. The Blue Jays had a bit of an adventure in the bottom of the first, with Davis fielding all three outs with the grace of Paul Bunyan playing Odette in Swan Lake.
The Twins tied it up in the second on three straight hits, with Chris Colabello singling home Trevor Plouffe. Sportsnet's Buck Martinez told us no less than four times that Colabello had played eight years in the independent leagues, but Baseball-Reference shows that he had only played seven--which still makes a great story. In that inning, right fielder Moises Sierra showed off his cannon arm by launching a perfect throw home, way over the head of the cutoff guy.
Toronto opened it up in the top of the third, with Anthony Gose doubling and Josh Thole singling to start the inning. Jose Reyes singled home Gose, and later Encarnacion walked to load the bases. Adam Lind, who would not have a good day at the plate or in the field, struck out, but then Brett Lawrie brought two runs home on a single right up the middle. Sierra followed with a double to score two more, but made one of his signature baserunning boners by rounding second and getting caught in a rundown to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Moises "Sierror" looked completely lost in right field, coming in on a ball that eventually landed 10 feet behind him. Good thing Anthony Gose was there to back him up to hold Alex Presley to a double. A play like this is a good example why errors are not the best way to assess fielding--Sierra was not close enough to the ball's landing spot to make an error. As he scampered down the dugout steps at the end of the inning, both Dwayne Murphy and John Gibbons walked up to him to have a chat.
Flashing forward to the seventh, Josh Thole reached first on a dangerous-looking dive at first base to avoid a tag in what was ruled a throwing error by Florimon. In the bottom half of the inning, R.A. Dickey, who had cruised through the first six innings in spite of the defense behind him, started to unfurl. He gave up a couple of hard-hit balls to the first two batters: a loud double to the tall right field wall by Oswaldo Arcia and then Colabello crushed a knuckleball into the Blue Jays bullpen just in front of Brett Cecil for a two-run home run.
John Gibbons took Dickey out after he retired the next batter, and he finished his 6.1 inning appearance having given up three runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked one throwing 101 pitches. Dickey is not pitching like a Cy Young pitcher, but he has strung together eight pretty decent outings.
Dustin McGowan was given the eighth, and with one out Brian Dozier hit a soft line drive to right field for a single, but Moises Sierra overran the ball completely when trying to backhand it for a two-base error. I don't see how Gibbons can play Sierra tomorrow. A batter later, Trevor Plouffe singled and scored Dozier from third, then the Blue Jays gave the Twins another two free bases to allow Plouffe to reach third when Josh Thole was unable to handle a McGowan wild pitch. The score was 6-4 at that point, but McGowan was able to get out of a runners on the corners situation by striking out Colabello with a 96 mph fastball.
Closer Casey Janssen was asked to throw the ninth despite a few straight shaky outings--and shaky it turned out to be. Leading off the inning, Pinto hit his first career homer to make it a one-run game, then a batter later Adam Lind booted a tough hard-hit ball to allow Alex Presley to reach. But, with Presley running on a 3-2 pitch, Ryan Doumit struck out and J.P. Arencibia (who came in as a pinch hitter) threw Presley out to end the game. The throw was great, it ended up on the first-base side of the bag, low enough for a single-motion catch-and-tag. If you recall, Arencibia ended a game the same way six days ago, getting Janssen out of trouble against Kansas City. Hats off to both Arencibia and his new catching instructor Sal Fasano.
Twins starter Pelfrey had a bad-looking line, giving up six runs on six hits in six innings, but he did strike out seven Blue Jays. In fact, after the five-run third, Toronto recorded just two more hits.
Another thing to note is that Josh Thole got hit hard by a Josh Willingham foul tip. Slow-motion replay showed that the mask not only jostled quite a bit around his head, but shards of the front of the mask exploded off upon contact. Let's hope that Thole felt OK and that he wasn't pinch hit for because of medical issues.
Jays of the Day! Brett Lawrie (+.123 WPA), Jose Reyes (+.115), Casey Janssen (+.100) gets 0.5 JoD, sharing the other 0.5 with J.P. Arencibia.
Suckage Jays: Adam Lind (-.076 WPA, an 0-for-4 day with a couple of costly misplays at first), and Rajai Davis (-.076). Moises Sierra (+.076) actually has a pretty good number for his two-run double, but his baserunning and fielding errors land him on the Suckage Jays list.