Of his 14 major league starts, the one Tyler Duffey probably wants back most is his debut. It came in Toronto last summer, and little good came from it. What’s followed, however, has been encouraging.
He gets another shot at the Blue Jays on Friday night in Minnesota as the Twins try to even things up in the second of a four-game series. If they don’t, they’ll just be adding to their worst start ever in Minnesota.
More Twins coverage on FOX Sports North
Duffey’s latest start is up there with a few of his 10 from last season as the best of his young career. The right-hander gave up six hits in seven scoreless innings of Sunday’s 5-1 win in Cleveland for his first victory of the season after going 5-1 in 10 starts last year.
It could be argued the 25-year-old has gotten better in each of his four starts since making his season debut on April 24. Duffey (1-2, 1.85 ERA) knows he’s to the point now where he’s no mystery to the league.
"I keep trying to pitch my game," Duffey said. "Guys have seen me. They know what I’m going to do. I just have to go out and execute."
Toronto only saw him briefly because they saw him so well. Duffey gave up six runs and five hits with two home runs and two walks in two innings of a 9-7 loss in Toronto on Aug. 5.
Jose Bautista hit a second-inning grand slam, and Josh Donaldson also homered.
He’s up against Aaron Sanchez (3-1, 3.29), who has faced the Twins twice â once as a starter and once from the bullpen â and has allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Sanchez’s control has suffered greatly in his last two starts with nine walks in 13 2/3 innings, and it caught up to him in Sunday’s 7-6 loss in Texas. He wasn’t stuck with the decision but gave up six runs and seven hits with four walks in 6 2/3 innings, though anything he contributed was overshadowed by the clubs’ brawl.
Even with the poor outing, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA in his last four starts.
The Blue Jays (20-23) opened the series with Thursday’s 3-2 win in 11 innings to end a five-game losing streak. Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run home run tied the game in the sixth, then Troy Tulowitzki drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out, two-strike single.
Toronto’s .233 batting average is last in the AL, so acting manager DeMarlo Hale put Bautista in the leadoff spot for the first time since 2010. Josh Donaldson might be next to move after going 0 for 4 to fall to 1 for 25 in his last six games.
"Just trying to kick-start this offense," said Hale, whose club has won five straight against Minnesota. Hale was filling in for John Gibbons, who was serving the last of a three-game suspension for the Sunday altercation with the Rangers.
The staff at least got it together win four hits allowed after posting a 7.86 ERA on the skid.
The Twins (10-30) lost their fourth straight and are 20 games under .500 in 40 games for the first time since reaching the mark in 32 contests in 1904 as the Washington Senators.