Blue Jays 10, Twins 3
He and his teammates weren’t distracted from making their early success last all night.
Towers won his fourth straight start, and the Blue Jays took advantage of Santana’s worst outing in nearly a year to beat the Twins 10-3 on Tuesday.
“I was like, ‘Wow.’ You’ve got to do something,” said Towers (5-1), who has allowed two earned runs or less in six of his eight starts this year. “You can’t blow a game when you’re going to get three runs off the AL Cy Young winner. You can’t.”
Towers gave up seven hits, two runs and one walk while striking out two and throwing 84 pitches on seven days of rest. Manager John Gibbons thought five innings was enough.
“I didn’t feel like I located the ball at all,” said Towers, who didn’t argue the decision to pull him. “Somehow, I got some outs.”
Vernon Wells, trying to rediscover his 2003 form at the plate, when he had the most hits in the majors and 33 home runs, smacked a two-run homer off Santana in the first. That set the tone for the reigning AL Cy Young winner’s uncharacteristic struggles.
“It was our night,” Wells said. “We face him again this season, it’ll be a totally different story.”
Santana (5-2) settled in after falling behind 3-0 in that opening inning, and Torii Hunter’s two-run home run pulled the Twins to a run back in the fourth. But the Blue Jays tacked on two more in the fifth and two more in the sixth, when Orlando Hudson’s soaring two-run homer off an 0-1 fastball sent Santana to the showers.
“He’s the type of guy you’ve got to jump on early,” Hudson said. “That only comes once every blue moon against a guy like that. He might come out and win his next 10 starts with the stuff he has.”
Santana gave up nine hits, seven runs and a walk in 5 1-3 innings, striking out five. The last time he gave up seven runs was last May 23, in just three innings of a 17-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“Sometimes you think you have everything in your hands, and you don’t,” Santana said.
Reed Johnson went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Alex Rios went 3-for-5 with two runs for Toronto, which is second in the league with 13 road wins in 22 tries. The first four batters in the Blue Jays’ lineup—Rios, Johnson, Shea Hillenbrand and Wells—collected seven runs, seven RBIs and 11 hits.
“The last couple of outings I have had, everyone is swinging early and putting good swings on it,” Santana said. “I didn’t have great command.”
With Vinnie Chulk pitching, Justin Morneau hit the first pitch of the sixth into the upper deck above left field for his seventh home run to make it 7-3. But Toronto pushed the lead back to five against Matt Guerrier in the seventh with a run-scoring single by Hillenbrand—his third RBI.
Corey Koskie was greeted warmly by Minnesota’s fans for his first Metrodome visit as a member of the opposing team. As the Blue Jays’ designated hitter, Koskie went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. Koskie was with the Twins’ organization since they drafted him in 1994.
The Twins went hitless in two more bases-loaded at-bats in the fifth, lowering the team average in that situation to .174 (8-for-46). Juan Castro, now 2-for-31 with the bases loaded in his career, couldn’t get his fly ball to right field deep enough for the lead runner to tag. Then Joe Mauer grounded out to second.
“Towers did a nice job of getting out of that jam,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We need to get runs in that situation.”
It might not have mattered in this case, with Santana getting hit so hard.
“It’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m not perfect. You just have to stay with it and bounce back. Hopefully the next start, Gardy won’t have to come get me out of the game.”
Wells homered for the second straight game. Until Sunday’s shot, he had gone 18 games and 68 at-bats without a home run. … Santana struggled in two starts against Toronto last year, giving up 16 hits and seven earned runs over 12 1-3 innings. … This was Towers’ first time facing the Twins. He’s given up three earned runs in his last 21 innings. … Minnesota’s Jacque Jones ended an 0-for-14 slump with a single in the fourth. … The last time Rios batted leadoff was Aug. 20, 2004, when he went 2-for-6 with two runs and an RBI.