Twins-Blue Jays Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays ended their losing streak Friday while
extending the Minnesota Twins’ slide.
Considering Toronto will start R.A. Dickey – who seems to have
discovered a groove recently – the Twins’ woes could very well
continue Saturday at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays (42-44) ended their three-game slide with a 4-0
win over the Twins (36-47), who lost their sixth straight.
Toronto’s starters had struggled during the club’s previous three
games, combining to allow 19 runs and 26 hits in only 11 2-3
But Mark Buehrle gave them seven strong innings Friday, a trend
the Blue Jays hope continues Saturday with Dickey (8-8, 4.59 ERA).
He’s won three of his last four starts with the last two being
particularly impressive. After a two-hit shutout of Tampa Bay on
June 26, he followed that with seven innings of two-run ball
against Detroit in an 8-3 win Monday.
“Just another great outing,” manager John Gibbons said. “Second
one in a row. I see more bite on his knuckleball than we’ve seen in
the past a little bit.”
The 38-year-old pitched through some back and neck issues
earlier this year, but is healthier now, and it seems to be showing
with better velocity. Dickey said he hit season highs on the radar
gun with both his fastball and knuckleball versus the Tigers.
He also walked a total of two batters in his last two starts
after entering the first with a walk rate of 2.67 per nine
“It’s been kind of a tough go getting it back,” Dickey said of
his velocity. “You can get away with a lot more mistakes when the
velocity’s up there.”
Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes continued hot stretches Friday,
each going 3 for 4 and driving in two runs. Bautista hit his 20th
homer and is 13 for 25 with four home runs and seven RBIs over his
last seven games. Reyes was hitless in his first two games after
returning from a sprained ankle June 26, but has since gone 13 for
36 with eight runs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s pitching staff continues to struggle,
posting a 6.79 ERA during the six-game skid. Mike Pelfrey (3-6,
6.11) will try to give the Twins a lift Saturday as he makes his
first start since June 18. Pelfrey, who was out with a strained
back, went 0-3 over his last eight starts, throwing more than six
innings only twice. He gave up a season-high 10 hits and four runs
over six innings his last time out, a 7-5 win over the White
The Twins are also failing to come through with runners in
scoring position, going 6 for 38 (.158) over the last five contests
compared to a .253 mark on the season.
Canada native Justin Morneau, who homered twice in Minnesota’s
loss to the Yankees on Thursday, was 0 for 4 Friday. He’s batting
.198 in 24 career games in Toronto, including a current 1-for-14
slump. The slugger is also 0 for 4 off Dickey.
Dickey hasn’t faced the Twins since 2008 when he made three
relief appearances and one start.
The Twins have lost 17 of 23 to Toronto, including eight of nine
at Rogers Centre.