Toronto’s hot offense has led to its longest winning streak of the season, but the Blue Jays are hoping they won’t need to rely on those bats Tuesday with Shaun Marcum on the mound.
The Blue Jays go for their fifth straight victory as they continue a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Toronto (38-37) is averaging 8.3 runs and batting .342 during its four-game winning streak, which includes an 8-5 victory over Minnesota (38-36) in Monday’s opener that pushed the Blue Jays over .500 for the first time since April 30— when they were 13-12.
Matt Stairs hit a two-run tiebreaking homer to extend his hitting streak to seven games, and is batting .444 (9-for-27) during that stretch. The 39-year-old, who signed with Toronto in the offseason, is hitting .304 with 12 home runs and 28 RBIs in 58 games.
“He doesn’t hit any cheapies,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s having an unbelievable year, especially for coming in and not expecting any playing time. He hasn’t lost a beat.”
Vernon Wells didn’t miss much Monday as he recorded three RBIs for the second straight game and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Frank Thomas failed to hit his 500th career homer, but has 49 against the Twins—his most versus any opponent.
The Blue Jays’ designated hitter is 1-for-2 with a homer against Scott Baker, who will take the mound for Minnesota, while Stairs is 4-for-9 with a double versus the right-hander.
Marcum (4-2, 3.38 ERA) began the season in the bullpen, but joined the starting rotation on May 13. He is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his eight starts, holding opponents to a .177 batting average.
The Blue Jays have gone 6-2 in his starts, including an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. Marcum held the Dodgers to two runs and three hits over six innings, but failed to record a decision.
The right-hander lost his only career meeting with the Twins, allowing four runs and eight hits over five innings in a 5-0 defeat on Aug. 13. He won’t have to face reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau, who has missed three straight games after bruising his right lung Friday in a collision at home plate versus Florida.
Morneau spent two days in the hospital, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the first baseman could be back as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
“Everything checked out fine,” said Gardenhire, whose team has lost three of its last four at home. “Now it’s going to depend on how sore he is and when he can get out in the field. As long as it continues on the path he’s on, it’s fine.”
Baker (2-2, 6.75) tries to help the Twins bounce back Tuesday as he goes for back-to-back wins. The right-hander limited the New York Mets to two runs and seven hits over five innings in a 6-2 victory on Wednesday.
He didn’t issue a walk and struck out three, throwing 57 of his 84 pitches for strikes. It was the first victory since May 19 for Baker, who had allowed 17 runs in 13 1-3 innings over his previous three starts.
“Nothing, technically, was different,” Baker said. “I didn’t try to make any adjustments mechanically or emotionally or anything.”
Baker didn’t gain a decision in Minnesota’s 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on May 25, allowing three runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings.