The Twins look for another strong effort on the mound when they continue a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday at the Metrodome.
Minnesota’s starters have given up just one earned run in three of their last four games. They have recorded 27 strikeouts with just two walks during that stretch while holding opponents to a .211 batting average.
Scott Baker scattered four hits and struck out a career-high nine over seven-plus innings on Tuesday in Minnesota’s 2-1, 12-inning victory over the Blue Jays (38-38). Jeff Cirillo hit a pinch-hit, bases-loaded bloop single in the 12th to give the Twins (39-36) their fifth win in the last seven games.
“I almost feel a little guilty because the ball fell,” said Cirillo, who snapped an 0-for-8 slump. “It was a flukey hit, but you know, I’ll take it.”
Bonser (5-3, 4.45 ERA) won four straight starts from May 13-29, but has gone 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last four outings, allowing opponents to hit .337.
The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits over six innings on Friday, but didn’t receive a decision in the Twins’ 5-4 defeat to Florida. Bonser lost his only career start versus the Blue Jays, allowing three runs and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-0 defeat on Aug. 12, 2006.
Toronto had its season-high four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday and fell to 14-20 on the road.
“It’s a tough way to lose, plus we were on a little bit of a winning streak there and we would have liked to keep it going,” catcher Gregg Zaun told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “We’ll just have to start a new one tomorrow.”
Toronto designated hitter Frank Thomas went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, failing to connect for his 500th career homer. He is 1-for-3 with a homer versus Bonser.
Toronto will hand the ball to Josh Towers (2-5, 5.75), who has struggled since replacing Tomo Ohka in the rotation on June 11. Towers is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in his last three starts, allowing opponents to hit .359.
He gave up five runs and a season-high 11 hits over four innings in Friday’s 9-8, 10-inning win over Colorado. Towers is 1-2 with a 6.32 ERA in three career starts versus the Twins, allowing them to hit .403.
He won’t have to face Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau, who still isn’t sure when he’ll be back in the lineup after bruising his right lung in a collision at the plate in Miami on Friday. The reigning AL MVP had a CT scan Tuesday that still showed some damage, but he said he’s improving.
“Hopefully, as soon as possible, but I don’t want to put a date on it,” Morneau said when asked about his return. “It should be, hopefully, in the next couple of days, but you don’t want to push it too much and then have something come back and all of a sudden I’m out for two or three weeks.”