The Blue Jays squandered countless opportunities for big innings throughout the afternoon in Minnesota as the amount of people left stranded in the game came close to the number of kids left on the island in Lord of the Flies. Aaron Sanchez was strong but a poor Ezequiel Carrera dive in the seventh ended up costing the team the game.
The first of the missed chances came early in the game with Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista on base for the Blue Jays in the opening inning. Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to help Kyle Gibson out of a tough spot and was an ominous sign of things to come. The second of the missed chances came in the second inning (notice a pattern?) as Chris Colabello grounded into another double play with no outs before Ryan Goins lined out with men once again on first and second.
Luckily for the Jays, the battery of Russell Martin and Aaron Sanchez were holding things down on the other side of the ball with Sanchez showing pretty good control and Russell Martin throwing out runners left and right. The first would-be base stealer came in the bottom of the second in the form of Eddie Rosario with Jose Reyes blocking Rosario's outstretched left arm with his leg long enough to tag him out.
The third missed chance for the boys in blue came in the third inning....sigh. After Jose Reyes singled on a weak infield grounder, he stole second and ended up at third on an awful throw by Twins catcher Chris Herrrmann (so many extra letters in that surname). Josh Donaldson was the first to blow his chance grounding out to third before Bautista was intentionally walked and Encarnacion got on by way of the (unintentional) free pass as well. Russell Martin came up with the bases loaded and Gibson GOT ANOTHER DOUBLE PLAY. A little cue shot rolled to the starter who threw home and then the ball found its way to first before the baserunner Martin.
The team paid for their endless amounts of double plays when Herrmann took Aaron Sanchez deep to right field to break the deadlock in the next half inning. This looked to wake up the Jays a bit as Kevin Pillar hit a solo shot of his own in the top of the fourth to once again tie the game. The bottom half of the frame saw Russell Martin throw out another base runner bringing his number of runners caught on the season to 18 out of a possible 35. This would end up saving a run as a few seconds later Joe Mauer doubled to left field followed by Trevor Plouffe doubling down the left field line to make the score 2-1. After walking the next batter, Sanchez struck out the next two hitters to get out of the inning relatively unscathed.
The Twins tried to test Martin's arm again in the fifth but it's Russell Martin so it didn't work. Eduardo Nunez hit the Canadian catcher in the noggin with his backswing and the inning was over on an interference call. Toronto finally got some luck in the next half inning as Herrmann threw away an Ezequiel Carrera sac bunt with men on first and second scoring the lead runner. The Jays couldn't punish the Twins any further though as Pillar struck out, Goins popped out, and Jose Reyes went down hacking on high fastballs from reliever Brian Duensing. Teams are starting to consistently bring in left-handed relievers to face the Jays shortstop forcing him to bat right-handed.
After a few quiet innings Aaron Sanchez left the mound after six in favour of Aaron Loup who made a proper mess of things with help from his little buddy in right field. Sanchez left with a final line of 6.0 IP allowing seven hits, three walks and two earned runs while recording five strikeouts. With Loup pitching, a single and sac bunt put a base runner at second with one out. Brian Dozier then smacked a hard Loup fastball to right field where Carrera made an ill-advised diving jump that actually resulted in too much extension as the ball bounced off the heel of his glove to the wall. Once Kevin Pillar had gotten the ball back to the infield, Dozier was sitting on third and the score was 3-2 Twins. Loup didn't get rattled though, as he retired the next two batters on ground outs to minimize the damage.
The Jays went down pretty quietly in the next two innings and the frustrating game was over. It should be noted that Josh Donaldson came up with two outs in the ninth looking to repeat his recent late-inning heroics but lined out to right field to extinguish all hope.
The sole Jay of the Day should be Ezequiel Carrera (.239 WPA) but he did end up costing the team the game so we'll just pretend he didn't have the number despite going 2 for 3. Sanchez was close at .097 and looked solid all day so we'll give it to him instead.
Suckage Jays are plentiful and include Jose Reyes (-.110), Josh Donaldson (-.137), Russell Martin (-.124), and Ryan Goins (-.132). Aaron Loup (-.146) also had the number but he really didn't do that much wrong and was unlucky to get tagged with the Dozier "triple".
The rubber match of the series goes tomorrow as Drew Hutchison looks to pitch another strong game after his complete game against the White Sox, while Ricky Nolasco goes for the Twins. The contest will start at 2:10 pm from Target Field.