Roy Halladay has gone right back to his dominating ways for the Toronto Blue Jays after an emergency appendectomy. The Minnesota Twins will have to wait a little longer to get Justin Morneau in the lineup again after a brief hospital stay.
Halladay looks to remain unbeaten against Minnesota and win his fifth straight start as the Blue Jays (37-37) kick off a four-game series Monday night at the Metrodome against the Twins (38-35), who are expected to be without the reigning AL MVP for the third straight game.
Halladay, the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, missed three weeks after undergoing surgery early last month. In five starts since returning May 31, he is 4-0 with a 3.58 ERA, but that figure is 1.84 in his wins.
On Wednesday, Halladay (8-2, 4.08 ERA) gave up six hits, including a solo homer, over eight innings of a 12-1 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out four and became the fifth Blue Jay with 1,000 career strikeouts, joining Jim Clancy, Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen and Dave Stieb.
In eight appearances - six starts - against the Twins, Halladay is 5-0 with a save and a 1.79 ERA. He’ll be pitching in Minnesota for the first time since April 2003.
Blue Jays designated hitter Frank Thomas could become the 21st player in MLB history with 500 homers during this series. Thomas, who hit a grand slam in Halladay’s last start, has 15 homers at the Metrodome.
Thomas hit a solo homer and Dustin McGowan carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning of a 5-0 win over Colorado on Sunday, capping a three-game sweep of the Rockies. McGowan had allowed only a fourth-inning walk to Kaz Matsui before giving up a single to Jeff Baker leading off the ninth, ending his bid to join Stieb as the only players in franchise history to throw a no-hitter.
“That would have been priceless, 500 and a no-no,” McGowan said.
Thomas will try to reach the milestone against rookie Kevin Slowey (2-0, 4.43), who will make his first career start against Toronto. The right-hander gave up three home runs through 5 1-3 innings of the Twins’ 10-9 win over Milwaukee on June 17.
Slowey has allowed seven homers in just 22 1-3 innings since his recall from the minors June 1. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes Slowey may pitch better if he relaxes.
“He’s just got to slow the ball up right now. He’s throwing everything a little too hard,” Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site.
The Twins rallied for the win in Slowey’s last start on Morneau’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, but the first baseman didn’t fly back to Minnesota with the team Sunday following a 7-4 win over the Marlins.
Morneau, second in the AL with 20 homers, suffered a bruised right lung and was coughing up blood Friday after a home-plate collision with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo. Morneau remained in the hospital Sunday to undergo more tests, and was was released Monday.
The Twins didn’t seem to miss Morneau on Sunday as Johan Santana drove in a run with his first career triple and Joe Mauer had his first two-homer game since 2004. Minnesota has scored 18 runs in two wins since the injury to Morneau, who’s one homer shy of 100 for his career.
Minnesota took two of three at home from Toronto in May.