Bautista will try to help extend Toronto’s season-high winning streak to five games Sunday when the visiting Blue Jays close a weekend set with the Minnesota Twins, who are looking to avoid their first eight-game skid in almost eight years.
Bautista’s two-run homer ignited a six-run 11th inning and lifted Toronto (19-20) to a 9-3 victory Saturday. He is second in the AL with a .358 batting average, and has a major league-high 13 home runs in 31 games after belting a big league-best 54 last year.
Before that, Toronto’s right fielder had hit no more than 16 homers in a year, totaling 59 in his first six seasons.
He hit just three in his first 13 games of 2011, but has gone deep 10 times over the last 18 contests, including once each in the first two games of this series to give him four homers in six career games at Target Field.
The Blue Jays have won 11 of 13 at Minnesota since 2008.
Bautista also has an MLB-high 35 walks, reaching base safely in 20 straight games and 30 of 31.
“He’s hitting home runs, has a high average, RBI, on-base percentage,” teammate Corey Patterson(notes) said. “Typically guys that hit a lot of homers are going to be lacking in something as far as their average goes.”
Last Saturday in Boston, the left-hander threw 33 pitches over just two innings, but didn’t return after a 2-hour, 7-minute rain delay and the Twins eventually fell 4-0.
Duensing walked four of the 11 batters he faced in two innings, and gave up two runs and three hits. He hasn’t issued more than two bases on balls in any of his six starts this year.
Duensing has no record and a 5.56 ERA in three career outings against Toronto, including two starts.
Minnesota (12-25) is on the verge of dropping eight straight for the first time since July 5-13, 2003, and is already 12 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.
“You can’t get 20 games below .500 and expect to just all of a sudden come back,” he said. “This game’s not easy … it’s not something you can just turn around like that.”
Minnesota will try to start turning things around against Brandon Morrow(notes) (1-2, 4.71), who makes his first career start against the Twins while trying to bounce back from his shortest outing of 2011.
The right-hander lasted just 3 1-3 innings Monday against Detroit, giving up a season-high five runs with three hits and three walks in the Blue Jays’ 10-5 loss.
Morrow also struck out six and was visibly upset after being lifted, but later acknowledged that “things started to snowball.”
Morrow went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA but converted both his save opportunities in six career relief appearances versus the Twins. He hasn’t faced them since June 6, 2009, while pitching for Seattle.