Twins 9, Blue Jays 1: An exclamation point on the series – Twinkie Town

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The Minnesota Twins have the best record in baseball after spending the last 72 hours decimating the poor Toronto Blue Jays, who just happened to be standing in the way.

The three-game series north of the border finished with the Twins dominating to the tune of 20-1. If it wasn’t for a line-drive homer from Billy McKinney in the fifth inning tonight, the Jays would have been shut out in three straight games. As it was, Toronto had nine hits in three games, and seven of them were singles.

As weird as it may sound, scoring 20 runs in three games won’t be the story coming out of this series, even though the Twins did it against a downright decent Blue Jays pitching staff.

Instead, the story is Twins pitching, which is suddenly dominant. Even the much-maligned bullpen was practically spotless in seven total innings in the series.

Once again, the Twins jumped out quickly in this one with back-to-back singles from Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco and a sacrifice fly from Eddie Rosario.

Then, the barrage of two-run homers commenced. First, Polanco in the second inning. Then, C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop each crushed two-run homers in the third. Finally, Rosario capped off the scoring with a two-run shot of his own in the sixth inning.

Polanco went 5-for-5 with a home run and a double and once again missed a cycle by one hit. He’s been extremely streaky this season, but the Twins will take his peaks and valleys if his peaks are five-hit games.

Kyle Gibson pitched one of the best games of his career, striking out the side in the first inning, nothing five strikeouts through the first three innings with just one baserunner, and carrying a no-hitter for 423innings until McKinney’s homer.

When it was all said and done, Gibson had a career-high 11 strikeouts in six innings. The pitch count was a bit on the high side, however, and manager Rocco Baldelli chose to pull Gibson after only 88 pitches and hand the 9-1 lead over to the bullpen.

The final three innings were uneventful, and that was that.

Notes

  • It’s awesome that this offense can withstand a week of .100 hitting from its cleanup hitter (Rosario) and keep winning, and that they can still manage nine runs on a night in which their best all-around hitter and No. 3-hole hitter (Nelson Cruz) goes 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.
  • Great to see Cron go 4-for-5 and just miss the Twins’ fifth two-run homer of the night with a warning track fly-out in his final at-bat.
  • Rocco Baldelli continues to do a solid job rotating through bench players to try and get them playing time and rest the regulars. Byron Buxton exited the game after six innings and Polanco was lifted for a pinch-runner after his fifth hit of the night.
  • While the Twins haven’t had an off day in two weeks, the timing of this one is a bit disappointing with Baldelli’s club streaking. Then again, if the team is as confident as they appear, they’ll come back ready to go on Friday for a divisional showdown with Detroit.

Studs

  • Kyle Gibson: 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 11 K, 1 BB
  • Jorge Polanco: 5-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
  • C.J. Cron: 4-for-5, 2 RBI, R
  • Eddie Rosario: 2-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • Jonathan Schoop: 2-for-5, 2 RBI, R

Duds

  • Nelson Cruz: 0-for-6, 3 K
  • Mitch Garver: 1-for-5, 3 K

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