It was a mixed crowd at Target Field on Sunday, where a 2-0 Toronto Blue Jays victory over the Minnesota Twins meant an impressive 5-1 road trip and another scoreless outing for starter Esmil Rogers (5-7).
Ryan Goins would show off behind Rogers (4.46 ERA and second win since June 18), giving the Jays their first sweep since they swept the Orioles back in June.
Rogers surrendered only three hits and one walk until Brett Cecil was handed the ball with two outs into the eighth inning.
Fans of one part Roughriders, one part Blue Jays, one part Twins persuasion, filled out the seats for North Battleford, Saskatchewan native Andrew Albers’ no-decision, and first career start against the only Canadian MLB team.
“I got away with a few pitches today. Sometimes that happens,” Albers told the Associated Press. “But for the most part I was able to keep the ball down and over the plate today.”
The rookie pitched seven shutout innings, striking out five with no walks and only four hits off 97 pitches.
“It’s a fine line in baseball. It’s an inch or two here and there. Guys are working hard, it just unfortunately isn’t happening for us right now.”
The Jays would finally break open the scoring when Jared Burton (2-8, 3.73 ERA) replaced Albers in the top of the 8th with Goins up to bat.
Goins snagged a lead-off single from the Twins’ setup man, and Kevin Pillar would lay down the sacrifice bunt to move him to second, but it was a Reyes two-base line drive that would send Goins home to make it 1-0.
Reyes would tally one more with Rajai Davis up to bat, beating the throw at 3rd for Reyes’ 14th steal of the season and cashing in on Davis’ pop up.
John Gibbons would finish the 8th by handing the ball off to Cecil (5-1, 2.98) for the 59th time this year.
His stint was short-lived after Alex Presley (who came into the series with a .450 OBP) singled off the lefty, and Sergio Santos was called upon to face Twins’ righty pinch-hitter Josmil Pinto, who would pop out.
Santos had stranded 15 of 16 inherited base runners this year, and has given up only two hits in his last 21 at-bats coming in to the game.
Casey Janssen would close it for his 29th save in his 51st appearance of the year.
Goins showed off earlier in the fourth with his transferable shortstop skills, taking a deep angle at second base throwing out Oswaldo Arcia from the knees at first with plenty of time to spare.
With Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup (left wrist), Mark DeRosa would come in to play first base.
DeRosa was all smiles while he busted a slump going 2-for-3 with two modest singles in the game. He was batting .138 in his last 30 days and .050 in his last 10 games.
However, things almost went the Twins’ way in the sixth, when Pedro Florimon kept his head up on a line drive to centre, gaining 90 feet while Rajai Davis and Moises Sierra played broken telephone in the outfield.
Alex Presley then turned what would have been a double play into a base-hit sending Florimon to third with none out.
Goins would save the day again, restoring the double play by sending a laser throw to the glove of J.P Arencibia, nailing Florimon at home and stranding Presley at second.
Something did go right for the Twins – when Jose Reyes came to the plate with Goins at first in the top of the fifth, he played into the 161st double play by the Twins this year, giving them the edge over the Cardinals for most in all of baseball this season.
Twins (61-80) continue to struggle at home with 10 straight losses, having not won at Target Field since August 15th.
Rogers’ last win came when he also tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings in a victory over the Diamondbacks on Monday.
NOTES: Since 2007, the Twins are 14-37 against Toronto … The Jays (67-76) have won their last 10 of 13 games and fourth straight series … Trevor Plouffe has a .462 AVG in September, 3rd in the AL East … Twins have 64 errors all season, the 4th fewest in the AL … The Blue Jays have made 100 errors this season, only Houston and the White Sox have made more … The Jays return home for a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting Sept. 10.