After missing a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the AL Central, the Twins try to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Blue Jays when they continue their three-game series on Wednesday.
The Twins (77-61) fell to 5-7 on their 14-game road trip - the franchise’s longest in 39 years - after losing 7-5 to the Blue Jays (71-66) on Tuesday. Minnesota led 5-1 after four innings, but Toronto scored three times in the fifth and Lyle Overbay put the Blue Jays ahead for good with a two-run home run in the sixth off reliever Boof Bonser.
The Twins’ seven losses on the trip are by a combined 11 runs. Their bullpen is responsible for five of them.
“It’s getting old,” outfielder Denard Span said. “We’ve lost some tough ones this whole road trip. All the losses we’ve had have been ones that we should have won the game. We’ve got to start picking it up and start finishing games a little better.”
Facing the Blue Jays to close this road trip—a result of the Republican National Convention being held in the Twin Cities—has added to Minnesota’s frustrations. The Blue Jays have won seven straight over Minnesota, including four wins this season. The Twins have also lost five straight at Rogers Centre, where they’ve been outscored 39-13 in those contests.
Although the Twins have struggled on this road trip, which ends Thursday, they remain tied with the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central. The White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games on Tuesday.
“It’s more on us,” Twins starter Glen Perkins said. “We can’t rely on them to lose.”
The Blue Jays have won three straight, scoring 20 runs after being held to three runs in a three-game losing streak. Jose Bautista and Alex Rios each homered and had four of Toronto’s 17 hits on Tuesday.
Toronto looks to remain undefeated against the Twins this season when they hand the ball on Wednesday to A.J. Burnett (16-10, 4.48 ERA).
Burnett had won six straight starts, but he is winless in his last two outings. He pitched well on Friday against the New York Yankees, allowing two runs and seven hits over eight innings of a 2-1 loss—his first since July 18.
Burnett, who is looking to join teammate Roy Halladay for second place among AL pitchers in wins, is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three career starts against the Twins—all at the Metrodome. He hasn’t faced them this season.
The Twins have lost the last four games started by Nick Blackburn (9-8, 3.75), who is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in that span. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Oakland on Thursday, but did not receive a decision.
“It’s frustrating,” he told the Twins’ official Web site. “I feel like I made 94, 95 good pitches and the three you don’t, hurt you. The way it’s going right now, any time there is a mistake made it ends up hurting me.”
Blackburn has never faced the Blue Jays.