Blue Jays 2, Twins 0
After getting knocked around and being on the opposite end of a no-hitter in his previous start, Ricky Romero had little trouble with the Minnesota Twins lineup.
Romero pitched 8 2-3 innings, Jose Bautista homered and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the somber Twins 2-0 on Friday night.
''After having a rough outing, I think it motivates you even more to come out and have a good outing for the team and rest the bullpen,'' Romero said. ''I felt strong. I felt really, really strong.''
The Twins learned earlier in the day that Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was preparing for the final days of his life and no longer planned to fight his esophageal cancer.
Killebrew's No. 3 jersey hung in the dugout, where it will stay for the remainder of the season. Video messages from Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva and Justin Morneau were played on the big screen before the first pitch.
Romero took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Denard Span slapped a single past a diving John McDonald with two outs in the sixth to break up the no-hit bid.
Romero - who was the opposing pitcher in Justin Verlander's no-hitter on May 7 - allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked three. He yelled into his glove after allowing a single to Delmon Young and getting pulled one out away from his second career shutout.
When asked if he thought Friday was his turn for a no-hitter, Romero tried to hold back a grin and deflected the question as best he could.
''I think those thoughts start creeping in if you take it to the seventh, eighth or ninth inning,'' he said. ''Other than that I felt like I was just making my pitches and getting outs.''
Frank Francisco came on and struck out Michael Cuddyer to notch his third save in four chances.
Juan Rivera's single in the seventh scored Corey Patterson from second base and finally put the Blue Jays on the board.
Bautista hit his 12th home run in the eighth to make it 2-0. The slugger was 3 for 4 and has reached base in 29 of 30 games this season.
''What can you say about Bautista?'' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ''A one-run difference is a huge margin. An extra run keeps them away from the bunt and sacrifice and the small game.''
Toronto had no trouble getting on base against Twins starter Carl Pavano, but couldn't capitalize with runs. The Blue Jays stranded 10 runners through six innings and forced Pavano to exit after 5 1-3 innings and 115 pitches.
Toronto stranded 14 runners in the game.
''It's a good thing Romero was so effective because we had so many opportunities that we created but were unable to cash in,'' Farrell said. ''The fact that he was so strong and so efficient made those missed opportunities not loom so large.
Alex Burnett (0-2) took the loss after relieving Pavano.
Not even the return of outfielder Delmon Young could spark the reeling Twins offense. Minnesota entered Friday with a .231 team batting average and just 17 home runs.
The Twins have the worst record in baseball and have lost six straight and 12 of their past 15.
''We couldn't shut them down. The one guy keeps hitting the seats. We couldn't stop that and we had no offense,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Toronto starters had an 8.51 ERA in its past five games, but Romero had no problem shutting down the Twins. Span was the only baserunner to advance to third base.
Romero improved to 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA in five career starts against the Twins. Those numbers make missing the shutout a little easier to handle.
''We've been wearing out our bullpen this first month,'' Romero said. ''Talking to the starters, we're going to carry a little chip and try to go seven, eight, nine innings. That's our goal every time we go out there.''
Rivera was a late addition to the lineup after Adam Lind was scratched. Lind has been out since May 7 with back soreness and was removed from the lineup after the soreness returned during pregame warmups.
The Blue Jays have won 10 of their past 12 against the Twins and four of their past five at Target Field.
NOTES: The Blue Jays announced the death of Mel Queen on Friday. Queen joined the Blue Jays staff in 1986 and served as farm director, minor league pitching instructor and pitching coach before being hired as player development senior adviser in 1998. Queen was pitching coach when Pat Hentgen and Roger Clemens won Cy Young Awards with Toronto. Queen is also credited with developing Roy Halladay. ... Tsuyoshi Nishioka had an X-ray on Thursday that showed healing in his broken left leg. He's taking batting practice and doing agility drills at Minnesota's minor league complex in Fort Myers, Fla. ... Joe Mauer took batting practice with the Twins on Friday, another small step back in his recovery from bilateral leg weakness. ... The Twins optioned OF Rene Tosoni to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Young.