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Jays Win a Close One

Hold on to down Twins 3-2

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

That was kind of an odd one, but we’ll take the win. The Jays have now split two road series in a row against tough opponents. Not ideal, but good enough to hold their position two games up on Tampa Bay for the first wildcard.

The offence was all over Chris Archer from the beginning, but lots of solid contact only translated into modest scoring. In the first, both Vladimir Guerrero jr. and Alejandro Kirk crushed low liners that didn’t make it out of the infield. In each of the second and third, the Jays combined a hard single and a double to score one, but weren’t able to string more hits together. Overall, Archer gave up nine hard hit balls in five innings that resulted in just four base runners and two runs scored.

The Twins bullpen continued to give the Jays trouble. Emilio Pagan worked most of the sixth for Minnesota and aside from a ground ball single by Guerrero the Jays weren’t able to touch him. He was forced to leave the game with two out and a 2-2 count to Teoscar Hernandez with what looked like some kind of back problem. Hernandez doubled off replacement Cole Sands to move Guerrero to 3rd, but Bo Bichette wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunity, striking out swinging.

Sands stayed in to work clean seventh and eighth innings, not allowing much hard contact. In the ninth the Jays managed one more baserunner on a Kirk line drive single. Sands popped up the next two batters, Bichette and Hernandez, for the first two outs of the inning and was lifted for Caleb Thielbar.

Matt Chapman battled Thielbar and won, lining a single to right that advanced Otto Lopez (running for Kirk) to third. Again, the Jays weren’t able to seize the opportunity. Whit Merrifield flee out to end the inning.

Thielbar stayed in to pitch the tenth. Santiago Espinal flew out to advance Merrifield to third. From there, Merrifield scored on a shallow fly by Cavan Biggio to make it 3-2. He was initially called out at the plate, but on review he beat the tag. Back around to the top of the order, Lourdes Gurriel jr doubled. Minnesota walked Vlad to get to Danny Jansen. Jansen reqched on a grounder to first, but Gurriel made a signature baserunning blunder, getting hung up between home and third and tagged out to end the inning.

It wasn’t a great day for the offence, with just three runs on nine hits and a walk. They didn’t strike out much (just 6 times), and some hard hit balls found gloves, but against a pretty weak starter this lineup should do better. On the bright side, Lourdes extended his on base streak to 19 games, while Vlad extended his hit streak to 18. Both are the longest active streaks in baseball.

Kevin Gausman was looking for his second good start in a row after a bit of a rough patch in the two starts following the all start break. He gave up some solid contact but most of it found gloves. He rolled through six, striking out five and allowing five hits with no walks. It was surprising to see him pulled there, at only 84 pitches and with the 7-8-9 hitters coming up. That’s what John Schneider did, though. The outing dropped Gausman’s season ERA down below 3, to 2.91, and his season FIP down below 2, to 1.98.

Anthony Bass took over for the 7th, his second appearance in a row and third as a Blue Jay. He got the job done, conceding a ground ball single but otherwise turning in a clean inning.

Yimi Garcia was the first pitcher to struggle. He gave up a single to Jorge Polanco, then advanced the runner with a balk. Jose Miranda cashed the run in with a single of his own, but Garcia got a pop out and a fly out to end the inning there and preserve a one run lead for Jordan Romano to defend.

Romano wasn’t able to do it. He hit leadoff man Carlos Correa (who was replaced with pinch runner Tim Beckham), struck out Byron Buxton, then gave up a single to Gary Sanchez that advanced Beckham to third, and another to Luis Arraez to score him. Max Kepler grounded out to send it to extras.

In the tenth Romano get his second chance at the one run save, and this time he made good. Miranda lined out to centre too hard to advance the runner, and then two ground outs ended the game.

Jay of the Day: Gausman (0.352) looked like the ace he is.

Suckage: Nobody. Romano had it but then redeemed himself.

The Blue Jays head to Baltimore tomorrow for a three game set with the Orioles. Yusei Kikuchi will open the series facing off against Jordan Lyles. First pitch is slated for 7:05