MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Kiermaier and Bo Bichette homered in a three-run third, Kevin Gausman won for the first time in more than a month and the slumping Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Friday night.
Gausman (3-3) allowed a run and struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings for his first victory since April 23. Jordan Romano worked the ninth for his 11th save.
“It was a huge win for sure,” said Gausman, whose team had lost nine of its last 11 — all against AL East teams. “Any time you beat good teams in close ball games, I feel like the momentum can help more than necessarily scoring 15 and winning by 14 or something.”
Kiermaier got the scoring started with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to right field with two outs in the third. George Springer followed with his second double of the game and scored on Bichette’s 10th home run, a 424-foot blast to straightaway centre.
“He’s really unique,” Toronto manager John Schneider said about Bichette. “It’s really good bat-to-ball skills. He very rarely is off the barrel. … He’s really been consistent all year. It’s a pretty unique skill set he’s got.”
Louie Varland (2-1) pitched six innings for the Twins.
Minnesota’s slumping lineup scratched out just five hits and was unable to take advantage of nine walks. The Twins stranded 13 runners on base, their season high for a nine-inning game.
“It’s tough. It seems like we’re almost in every game, but we can’t finish it,” Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa said. “This speaks about the team. We have a really good team, we just haven’t been able to put those clutch hits together in order to give our pitchers comfortable leads. There’s still a lot of season left, but we’ve got to turn it on here pretty soon.”
Gausman cruised through five innings before his control abandoned him in the sixth. Alex Kiriloff and Edouard Julien drew walks, and Kyle Garlick’s RBI double spelled the end for Gausman.
Reliever Erik Swanson walked pinch-hitter Joey Gallo on four pitches to load the bases, but he struck out Michael A. Taylor and retired Donovan Solano on a groundout to end the threat.
TRUE NORTH HEADS SOUTH
Blue Jays fans generally travel well to watch Canada’s only MLB team when they play in northern cities. But with perfect weather forecast for the U.S. holiday weekend, there appeared to be as much royal blue in the stands cheering for Toronto as there was Minnesota’s navy blue.
“When I got the first out in the first inning, everybody was losing their minds, so it was pretty cool,” Gausman said. “That’s what’s unique about playing for the Blue Jays. I’m sure if you went and talked to a lot of those fans, this is the only time they come and see us play, maybe, every summer. Same way in Seattle and Detroit. Such a unique opportunity we have, one team playing for an entire country.”
Blue Jays: C Danny Jansen was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained groin. C Tyler Heineman was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take his place.
Twins: Correa returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with soreness in his left foot.
Blue Jays: RHP Chris Bassitt (5-3, 3.03 ERA) will face the Twins on Saturday afternoon. In his last outing, Bassitt’s 28-inning scoreless streak was snapped by the Rays in a 6-4 loss.
Twins: Minnesota counters with RHP Pablo López (2-3, 3.90), who is winless in four May starts despite pitching to a 3.75 ERA in 24 innings.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Patrick Donnelly, The Associated Press