Minnesota (45-39) at Toronto (42-43)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Thu Jul 8, 2010
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The Minnesota Twins have reason to be concerned about their pitching staff. They hope they also don’t have to worry about Justin Morneau(notes).

Morneau will be a game-time decision Thursday night after taking a knee to the head the previous night as the slumping Twins close a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Minnesota (45-39) had a four-game lead in the AL Central on June 11, but has since gone 9-14. The Twins dropped a season-high 1 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit after suffering a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays (42-43) on Wednesday. Minnesota opens a three-game series in Detroit on Friday.

Besides a struggling pitching staff that has posted a 4.70 ERA in its last 23 games - one of the highest in the major leagues - Minnesota also has injury concerns. Morneau, who is hitting .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs, was accidentally kneed in the head Wednesday by Toronto’s John McDonald(notes) as he tried to break up a double play in the eighth. He walked off the field without assistance but did not return.

“He was a little dizzy out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We got him out of the ball game. He said he had to come out. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Delmon Young(notes) was also banged up, straining his wrist in a collision with Denard Span(notes), although Young said it wasn’t serious. Young is batting .364 in the last 30 games and hit his fifth home run during that stretch in Wednesday’s defeat.

Matt Guerrier(notes) took the loss after giving up a go-ahead RBI double to Vernon Wells(notes) in the seventh. It was his first appearance since he allowed four runs in one inning of work in a loss to Tampa Bay on Friday.

“A frustrating game, a game we thought we should have won,” Gardenhire said. “You just don’t win baseball games like that. You have to go out and shut somebody down and we didn’t do enough of that today.”

Minnesota’s bullpen has three blown saves and a 6.14 ERA in six games this month.

Wells’ double ended an 0-for-21 slump as Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in 10 games. Jose Bautista(notes) hit an inside-the-park home run in the fifth.

The Twins are hoping Scott Baker(notes) (7-7, 4.72 ERA) can build on one of his better starts of the season when he takes the mound in the finale.

Baker gave up one run and struck out eight in seven innings of a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Friday, snapping a two-game losing streak in which he gave up 11 runs and 20 hits in 10 1-3 innings.

The right-hander, though, is 0-3 with a 5.10 ERA in five starts against Toronto. Aaron Hill(notes), who has missed the last two games with flulike symptoms, is 5 for 10 with two doubles and a home run against Baker.

Brett Cecil(notes) (7-5, 4.19) will counter for the Blue Jays.

Cecil is winless in his last four starts, although he gave up only one run despite a season-high six walks and four hits in six innings of a 6-1, 11-inning victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.

Cecil had a 9.19 ERA in his previous three starts.

The left-hander gave up two runs in six innings of a 3-2 win over Minnesota on Sept. 10, his lone appearance versus the Twins.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Baker LAD vs. B. Cecil Tor
12-9 Record 15-7
4.49 ERA 4.22
148 K 117
43 BB 54
1.34 WHIP 1.33


Thursday, Jul 8