Blue Jays-Twins Preview

CHRIS ALTRUDA
The Associated Press

Jose Bautista didn't get much of an opportunity to see if he liked hitting in the Metrodome.

The slugger, though, has made the most of his games at Target Field as the Toronto Blue Jays wrap up a four-game series Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.

Bautista, who hit 97 homers over the past two seasons, has eight thus far in 2012 despite a .197 batting average. But coming to Minnesota has often been a boost to the Blue Jays' offense. His solo shot in the sixth inning - a call reversed to a home run by umpires after video review - Saturday night proved decisive in Toronto's 2-1 victory and also was his 10th homer at Target Field in 10 career games spanning 43 at-bats.

"Aggressive pitching staff, they throw strikes,'' Bautista said after hitting his third homer in two games. "Missed some today, but I got the one that counted and it's good enough for the win.''

Bautista is hitting .372 (16 for 43) with 12 extra-base hits at Target Field, but he has never faced Twins scheduled starter Scott Diamond (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

The left-hander was stellar in his season debut Tuesday, scattering four hits and one walk in a career-best seven innings of a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Diamond, who failed to make the team out of spring training, struck out six in a 102-pitch effort for his second major league victory after going 1-5 in seven starts last year.

"The goal was to work back here. When I got sent down I was a little discouraged, but I wanted to work hard and get back,'' said Diamond, who will be making his first appearance versus Toronto.

There has been plenty of discouraging play from the Twins, who are a major league-worst 5-12 at home and 9-24 overall. Minnesota is 2-4 on its current nine-game homestand, getting held to three or fewer runs in all four defeats.

"We had plenty of chances, but it just didn't work out for us tonight,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after watching his team go 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Minnesota is 5 for 28 in such situations in this series.

Ricky Romero (4-0, 3.56) gets another crack at his fifth win for the Blue Jays (19-15), perhaps hoping to be more efficient. The left-hander worked in and out of trouble Tuesday at Oakland, giving up two runs in six innings while walking five, and left without a decision in Toronto's 7-3 defeat.

Romero has limited opponents to a .198 average, but he has walked three or more in five of his seven starts and also served up at least one homer in five outings. Those control problems, however, have not been very evident versus the Twins, against whom he is 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts and defeated twice last year.

Denard Span is 8 for 17 with two doubles lifetime against Romero, but Joe Mauer is 1 for 6.