Twins-Blue Jays Preview

The Minnesota Twins have reason to be concerned about their

pitching staff. They hope they also don’t have to worry about

Justin Morneau.

Morneau will be a game-time decision Thursday night after taking

a knee to the head the previous night as the slumping Twins close a

three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday


Minnesota (45-39) had a four-game lead in the AL Central on June

11, but has since gone 9-14. The Twins dropped a season-high 1 1/2

games behind first-place Detroit after suffering a 6-5 loss to the

Blue Jays (42-43) on Wednesday. Minnesota opens a three-game series

in Detroit on Friday.

Besides a struggling pitching staff that has posted a 4.70 ERA

in its last 23 games – one of the highest in the major leagues –

Minnesota also has injury concerns. Morneau, who is hitting .345

with 18 homers and 56 RBIs, was accidentally kneed in the head

Wednesday by Toronto’s John McDonald as he tried to break up a

double play in the eighth. He walked off the field without

assistance but did not return.

“He was a little dizzy out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

“We got him out of the ball game. He said he had to come out. We’ll

see how he is tomorrow.”

Delmon Young was also banged up, straining his wrist in a

collision with Denard Span, although Young said it wasn’t serious.

Young is batting .364 in the last 30 games and hit his fifth home

run during that stretch in Wednesday’s defeat.

Matt Guerrier took the loss after giving up a go-ahead RBI

double to Vernon Wells in the seventh. It was his first appearance

since he allowed four runs in one inning of work in a loss to Tampa

Bay on Friday.

“A frustrating game, a game we thought we should have won,”

Gardenhire said. “You just don’t win baseball games like that. You

have to go out and shut somebody down and we didn’t do enough of

that today.”

Minnesota’s bullpen has three blown saves and a 6.14 ERA in six

games this month.

Wells’ double ended an 0-for-21 slump as Toronto snapped a

three-game losing streak and won for the second time in 10 games.

Jose Bautista hit an inside-the-park home run in the fifth.

The Twins are hoping Scott Baker (7-7, 4.72 ERA) can build on

one of his better starts of the season when he takes the mound in

the finale.

Baker gave up one run and struck out eight in seven innings of a

2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Friday, snapping a two-game losing streak

in which he gave up 11 runs and 20 hits in 10 1-3 innings.

The right-hander, though, is 0-3 with a 5.10 ERA in five starts

against Toronto. Aaron Hill, who has missed the last two games with

flulike symptoms, is 5 for 10 with two doubles and a home run

against Baker.

Brett Cecil (7-5, 4.19) will counter for the Blue Jays.

Cecil is winless in his last four starts, although he gave up

only one run despite a season-high six walks and four hits in six

innings of a 6-1, 11-inning victory over the New York Yankees on


Cecil had a 9.19 ERA in his previous three starts.

The left-hander gave up two runs in six innings of a 3-2 win

over Minnesota on Sept. 10, his lone appearance versus the