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Short-handed, slumping Twins square off with streaking Jays

Sportsnaut
May 28, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) throws in the second inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Minnesota Twins will face a difficult task Friday night as they try to end their recent struggles while opening a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Twins lost their third straight game on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, a 3-2 defeat that finished a series in which Minnesota went 1-4.

Daz Cameron hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Emilio Pagan to give Detroit the win.

“It’s been tough, obviously,” Pagan said. “You can see it from the outside looking in. You can see it in here. When you’re not winning games, baseball is not as fun.

“Every team goes through a stretch that’s tough, but we’ll come out of this. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not easy for anybody, but we’ll be all right.”

The Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago White Sox on Thursday with an 8-3 victory, extending their season-best winning streak to eight games.

Toronto hitters seem to be breaking out of an early season funk. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, however, has been pleased with other aspects.

“I love that we’re pitching well and catching the ball,” Montoyo said. “I’ve been talking about that since spring training. I said if we do that, we’re going to have a chance. And we have a chance, we’re doing that.

“I know everybody talked about our offense, but in the big leagues, you’ve got to pitch and catch it. I’m really happy that we’re doing that.”

Toronto will start left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (2-1, 3.48 ERA) on Friday. He is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three career starts against the Twins.

Minnesota is expected to start right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez in his major league season debut. The only time he faced the Blue Jays in his career, he took a loss on June 28, 2015, after giving up three runs in six innings.

The Twins signed Gonzalez to a minor league contract as a free agent in the offseason. In eight appearances (five starts) for Triple-A Saint Paul this year, he went 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA. He is 9-24 with a 5.64 ERA in 61 major league appearances (47 starts) between the Texas Rangers (2015-16) and the Colorado Rockies (2019-21).

Right-hander Sonny Gray (right-pectoral strain) was supposed to start for Minnesota on Friday, but he was placed on the injured list on Thursday.

The Twins have been without such players as right-hander Joe Ryan, shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Gilberto Celestino, who are on the COVID-19 IL, and left-hander Danny Coulombe (left-hip impingement) and infielder Royce Lewis (right-knee bone bruise).

The Twins also are expected to be missing some players for the series against the Blue Jays because they fail to meet Canada’s vaccine requirements.

“We talk about everyone needing to step up when the time comes,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re at one of those points right now. We have some guys out; there’s no way around that. But you can’t really point to that every day as a reason why you’re not playing your best baseball. We’ve got to look in the mirror, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Toronto put left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (left-forearm inflammation) on the 15-day IL on Thursday and selected the contract of right-hander Jeremy Beasley from Triple-A Buffalo.

Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (non-COVID-19 illness) missed his second straight game Thursday but was in the dugout. Santiago Espinal filled in as the leadoff hitter the past two days, and he hit a solo homer Wednesday before going 3-for-5 with three RBIs on Thursday.

–Field Level Media