Twins 8 at Blue Jays 6
Give a team five outs, even against a pitcher who’s been as immaculate as Kevin Gausman this year, and they will probably make you pay. That’s exactly what the Twins did in the first inning Sunday to put the Jays in an early hole they were never able to dig themselves out as they dropped a winnable series to Minnesota. If they finish a game out of the postseason this year, this will be one to look back at as a major missed opportunity.
In addition to that, the Twins nickle-and-dimed Gausman, starting from the outset. Luis Arraez slashed a single the other way for a leadoff single, and Gary Sanchez followed with another, fisting a line drive. Gausman then got a high can of corn to right field that’s the routinest out outs 99% of the time, but Teoscar Hernandez lost it in the sun for a two base error and a 1-0 deficit.
A ground out scored a second run, followed by a strikeout, so but for the error right there Gausman would have been out of the inning without any damage. Then he got Jose Miranda to popup in foul territory on the first base side, but this time it was Vladimir Gurrero Jr.’s turn to lose one in the sun. Miranda used his new lease on the at-bat life to poke a RBI ground ball through the infield for 3-0. Another cheapish singled followed on a chopper, but further damage was averted by Teoscar throwing the runner trying to take second.
On the fourth pitch of the bottom of the inning, George Springer hit a ball better than all the contact in the top of the inning combined, obliterating a Devin Smeltzer fastball left up at the top of the zone just fair into the second level. Unfortunately, it still counts for just one run.
Bo Bichette and Guerrero drew walks off a rattled Smeltzer to put him him on the ropes, but Teoscar popped out before Alejandro Kirk rolled into an easy double play to squander a golden opportunity. This could easily—and really should—have been a 2-0 to 3-0 lead for the Jays going to the second instead of a 3-1 hole.
The nickle-and-diming continued in the 2nd inning, with Nick Gordon tripling on a well hit ball, followed by Jermaine Palacios and Arraez singling on reasonably squared but niot particularly hard contact. Jorge Polanco added a single on an infield tapper, and that made for two more runs.
It seemed like the Twins had a read on Gausman’s change-up/splitter, and Joe Siddall speculating he was either tipping it or they were finding a way to read. Gausman and Jansen noticeably went away from around this point, and he settled in for the next couple innings relying mostly on his fastball.
The bats went quite for a while, until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led the 4th with a single. Unfortunately, he was erased on a double play by Teoscar which immediately proved costly as Alejandro Kirk teed off on a 2-0 meatball for a mammoth home run. But again, just a solo shot that left the Jays down 5-2.
The score held there until the 7th, when Trevor Larnach and Matt Chapman traded solo shots, both similarly very well hit 415-foot bombs. The Jays then turned to the soft underbelly of the pen in the 8th, first Andrew Vasquez who got two outs before giving up a single. The Jays then turned to Jeremy Beasley, who couldn’t end the inning and hold the line. Gary Sanchez hit a fly ball just down the line, a pretty cheap one in the grand scheme, but good for a two run shot that seemed like the knockout blow.
That too proved critically important as the Jays staged a big rally in the bottom of the 9th. A walk and single by Matt Chapman brought up Santiago Espinal, who launched a three run home run to draw the Jays to 8-6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed with a single to make it interesting, and even moreso when Springer singled two out out to bring up Bichette as the winning run, but he grounded out. They had simply yielded too much ground already.
Jays of the Day: None by numbers, with Vladdy having the high mark at +0.074 WPA but offset by the costly missed popup. Let’s give one instead to Chapman (+0.050) for the 3-for-4 afternoon the barreled HR.
Suckage: Gausman (-0.336, not all on him) and Teoscar (-0.132, plus the critical lost ball in the 1st mitigated by two outfield assist).
The Jays are in Kansas City tomorrow with Ross Stripling moving back into the rotation for what will likely b e a short start against LHP Daniel Lynch at 8:10 EDT.