Blue Jays 7 at Twins 9
The ultimate score was closer than it was, as the jays fell behind early, knotted it in the middle inning before a power surge from the Twins before a late charge fell short.
Bo Bichette started things off right, continuing his torrid streak by driving a high fly ball over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead:
Unfortunately, that lead was not to stand long as Chris Bassitt was neither sharp nor had his good stuff with his velocity down a couple ticks compared to usual. After walking leadoff hitter Joey Gallo, Edouard Julien punched a double to put him in a tight spot right off the jump.
Bassitt rebounded to strike out Byron Buxton before allowing the tying run on a ground out. But he couldn’t limit the damage there, exhibiting further wildness in hitting Willi Castro who then quickly advanced to second on a stolen base. Still, all he had to do was get Matt Wallner — hitting .077 entering the game — to end the threat. Instead, a single to right-centre plated both.
The Twins extended it to 4-1 in the 2nd on another Julien double with to out to plate a leadoff single, this a long drive off the left-centre wall that was a couple feet from going out. Bassitt was on the ropes on the third, loading the bases on a couple singles and a two out walk before wriggling out with a groundout. He finally had a clean and easy inning in the 4th and perhaps appeared to have righted the ship.
Meanwhile, for their part the Jays bats had managed to draw even. After Tyler Heineman walked in the 3rd followed by a single from George Springer, Bichette smashed another deep fly ball that caroomed off the wall for a two-RBI triple giving the Jays a shot to tie the game without another hit.
But Vladimir Gurrero Jr struck out, and after a walk to Brandon Belt, Matt Chapman smashed a line drive but right at the right fielder to end the inning. They did tie the game an inning later. Cavan Biggio had come earlier for Kevin Kiermaier when he tweaked his back, and he knotted it with a two out solo home run in the 4th.
Alas, the wheels finally fell off the teeter totter for Bassitt in the 5th inning (forgive the mixed metaphor). Alex Kirilloff hammered a leadoff single to start the inning, and then Castro hit a deep fly ball to straight away. Daulton Varsho — in centre replacing the departed Kiermaier — appeared to track it towards the fence. Leaping for it, it tipped off his glove and over the fence for a home run and 6-4 Twins lead.
It looked like otherwise it would have gone off the fence for a double absent the intervention (though Statcast had it as a home run at Target Field on the metrics). But it didn’t really matter, as Wallner proceeded to smash a deep drive of his own, slightly to the left but similarly just over Varsho’s grasp and the fence to make it 7-4 and end Bassitt’s afternoon.
That appeared to effectively be the game as the Twins put things in gear. The bats did precious little, other than Belt hitting a ball off the wall in the 6th but being thrown out trying to take second.
Following Bassitt, Anthony Bass was very effective in throwing two perfect innings but the Twins added two (very important) insurance runs on solo home runs by Castro (off Adam Cimber in the 7th) and then Julien got one over the fence (off Yimi Garcia in the 8th) to make it 9-4.
In the end, the jays mounted a rally in the 9th. After Whit Merrfield singled leading off, Varsho exorcised some frustrations by pounding a two run home run. Biggio was hit by a pitch, and Kirk flared a single to bring the tying run to the plate at the top of the lineup.
The Twins switched to old friend Brock “Beef Stew” Stewart, who isn’t exactly who I’d want on a mound clinging to a lead. But he got Springer to fly out, worked around yet another single from Bichette that made it even more interesting to retire Vlad and Belt and preserve the win.
Jays of the Day: Bichette (+.347 WPA), Biggio (+.127)
: Bassitt (-.547), Guerrero (-.165), Belt (-.105), Chapman (hard luck -.102)
Tomorrow, the Jays will take the series with Jose Berrios taking the mound in his old stomping grounds against RHP Bailey Ober at 2:10 EDT.