Twins 9 at Blue Jays 3
Dead ball? What dead ball?
It was bombs away at Rogers Centre on Friday night, especially in the early going. Minnesota jumped on Yusei Kikuchi, as after striking out Byron Buxton he gave up a hard single followed by Kyle Garlick jumping all over a fastball for a no doubt home run to put Minnesota ahead 2-0 a couple minutes in. He gave up another single that was absolutely drilled, but got a double play from old friend Gio Urshela to get out of it.
For their part, the Jays struck back right away against Chi Chi Gonzalez (a perfect marriage of franchise name and player name). George Springer crushed the second pitch he saw to dead centre for yet another leadoff home run. Bo Bichette followed with a double, scoring shortly on a yet more hard contact, a smashed single by Teoscar Hernandez. That was to be as close as the Jays got to the lead however, as Gonzalez too got out of the jam with no further damage,
Leading off the second, Jose Miranda touched up Kikuchi for another home run, on a very high fly ball that just snuck out down the line. A bit of a cheapie; that same contact between the gaps is an unremarkable flyout. Kikuchi put down the next five batters, including three strikeouts in a row leading back to Garlick. That meant precious little as he crushed another home run to extend the lead to 4-2.
More hard contact off Kikuchi followed. A leadoff double to the base of the wall in centre leading off the 4th, followed by Miranda getting good wood on a ball to the gap that a shifted Springer was able to corral. He was stranded, as was Buxton in the 5th after a double that chased Kikuchi.
When he wasn’t giving up hard contact, Kikuchi was actually pretty good, even borderline dominant (but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...). While the seven hits were mostly crushed (other than the Miranda home run), he struck out six without walking anyone. He was sitting mid-90s on the fastball, consistently blowing away Twins batters with it. The complement to that was his change-up, consistently diving under bats for swinging strikes.
Trevor Richards, who embarrassed Trevor Larnach onm four change-ups to finish the 5th, got a little snakebitten in the 6th. he gave up a leadoff flare for a single, then a strikeout and a ground ball that was almost turned for two (and probably should have been, the Bichette-Biggio exchange wasn’t smooth). in fact, initially it was, but the Twins challenged and rightfully won. That brought Miranda up, who followed in Garlicks footsteps with a second home run, another very high arcing shot over the wall in left field.
That was the dagger in the heart, especially since the Jays bats went quiet after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. absolutely crushed the longest home run of the night in the 3rd to put the Jays at 4-3. The side was struck out in order in the 4th, and then they squandered a golden opportunity after Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio walked leading off the 5th.
The Twins went to the bullpen, and a procession of relievers absolutely shut down the Jays starting with Jovani Moran’s changeup shutting down the top of the order. From that point, the only batter to reach was Biggio on another walk; 15 of 16 went down.
The rest of the bullpen? Julian Merryweather had a pretty good outing. Andrew Vasquez showed by why he’s an org guy. Jeremy Beasley showed why he’s an up-or-down reliever, flashing easy plus raw fastballs and sliders that dominating at first, but also scattershot command that saw him miss badly and walk a batter before hanging a slider that Buxton absolutely destroyed into the second deck for good measure and a fifth home run.
Jays of the Day: None, by the numbers. Cavan Biggio had the high mark at +0.086 WPA with a pair of well earned walks.
Suckage: Kikuchi (-0.209 WPA), Richards (-0.129; a little harsh frankly)
Tomorrow the Jays will look to start a new win streak (and prevent a twinning of Minnesota’s) with Jose Berrios making a third start in four months with the Jays against his former team, opposed by Dylan Bundy at 3:05 eastern.