Minnesota (0-1) at Toronto (1-0)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 45° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Wed Apr 5, 2006
  • TV: FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Josh Towers is hoping to build on a career-best 2005 when he makes his season debut as the Toronto Blue Jays meet the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.

The right-hander was tied for the team lead with 13 wins and led with 208 2-3 innings last season. He also posted career bests in ERA (3.71), strikeouts (112) and complete games (two).

Towers is the No. 2 starter for Toronto until free-agent signing A.J. Burnett (elbow soreness) returns from the 15-day disabled list.

Some of the Blue Jays’ other top offseason acquisitions made key contributions on Tuesday in their season-opening 6-3 win over the Twins.

Closer B.J. Ryan, signed to a $47 million, five-year contract, struck out two in a perfect ninth inning. Catcher Bengie Molina homered off Johan Santana, and fellow newcomers Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay each had a hit and scored a run.

“All the right moves were made, hopefully,” Overbay said, referring to the offseason. “It’s just the way it happened today.”

Eight of the nine Blue Jays batters earned a hit against the Twins in the opener, totaling 14 in the game. Reed Johnson and Alex Rios led the Jays at the top of the lineup, both going 3-for-5. Rios, a career .370 hitter against the Twins, had a two-run homer.

Minnesota looks to bounce back behind Brad Radke, who is entering his 12th season and possibly his last. The 33-year-old right-hander, who had a subpar 2005 season, is contemplating retirement once his contract expires at the end of this season.

“His velocity was better than it ever has been in spring training,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s throwing the ball harder. He was really into the games. He’s always methodical when he does spring training, but I thought he was really into it this year.”

Radke finished last season 9-12, matching the fewest wins of his career, and had a 4.04 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 200 2-3 innings. He also allowed 33 home runs, the most he’s given up since 1996. His total of 302 homers allowed is the most for any pitcher since his rookie season of 1995 and the most in franchise history.

Among the current Blue Jays roster, only Frank Catalanotto and Eric Hinske have homered against Radke. He has made 22 starts against Toronto, going 9-8 with a 5.12 ERA, his worst against any AL team.

Catalanotto, who is expected to make his first start of the season, leads the Jays with a .429 batting average against Radke.

Minnesota left fielder Shannon Stewart is hitting .386 against Toronto, his best against any team. He went 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored in the season-opening loss.

He is a career .412 hitter (7-for-17) against Towers, who has a 1-1 mark with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Twins, both in 2005.

Related Articles

Starting Pitchers

B. Radke Min vs. J. Towers LAD
12-9 Record 2-10
4.32 ERA 8.42
83 K 35
32 BB 17
1.41 WHIP 1.77