The Minnesota Twins slugged the Blue Jays’ winning streak to the curb on Friday night.
The Twins hit five home runs, including three off Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi, bringing Toronto’s season-high run of eight consecutive wins to an end.
Before a crowd of 27,753 at the Rogers Centre as the Jays and Twins kicked off Pride Weekend, Kyle Garlick and Jose Miranda each hit two home runs for Minnesota to drive the visitors to a 9-3 victory.
Despite fielding a decimated lineup — shortstop Carlos Correa has COVID-19 and outfielder Max Kepler was among several Twins who could not make the trip to Canada because they are not vaccinated — Minnesota was able to put an end to its three-game losing streak.
The Jays, who lost for just the fourth time in their past 16 games, got nothing off a handful of Twins relievers — including Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton (1-1), Tyler Duffey, Joe Smith and Griffin Jax.
After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered in the third inning off Twins starter Chi Chi Gonzalez, the Jays didn’t manage another hit and finished with four. The Guerrero shot was the only hit the Jays recorded after the first inning. They were 0-for-19 after the Guerrero homer with three walks.
“It was the first time (in recent weeks) that everybody struggled,” Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “The pitching struggled, we didn’t really hit and that’s why we lost the game. Credit to them. They have a pretty good bullpen. But those eight games (the Jays won) were outstanding. Everybody did something to win every game.”
Miranda belted a two-run shot off reliever Trevor Richards with two out in the sixth to put Minnesota up by three runs.
The Twins got one run in the eighth off Andrew Vasquez and in the ninth, Byron Buxton hit a two-run shot off Jeremy Beasley.
Kikuchi (2-2) went 4 2/3 innings before giving way to Richards.
After allowing just four home runs in total in his previous nine starts, Kikuchi was lit up for three homers. Conversely, Kikuchi struck out six.
“Mixed emotions, for sure,” Kikuchi said. “Don’t really know a good way to put it. The stuff was good, I felt pretty good for the most part, a lot of strikeouts, but at the same time, a lot of hard contact. It’s a lot of good things and bad things.
“If I were to be tipping (his pitches), I feel like I would not have got that many strikeouts. For the most part, they had a game plan and they stuck with it. Maybe they were looking for certain pitches.”
Garlick hit a two-run homer in the first.
George Springer, back in the starting lineup after missing the previous two games with a non-COVID illness, homered to centre off Gonzalez in the Jays’ half of the first.
It was the 49th leadoff homer of Springer’s career, moving him past Ian Kinsler and into fourth place in major-league history.
The Jays tied the game when Teoscar Hernandez singled to score Bo Bichette, who doubled after Springer’s homer.
Miranda homered in the second to restore a Twins lead. Garlick connected for his second shot off Kikuchi with two out in the third.
SPRINGER IN HIS STEP
Springer wasn’t an option for Montoyo on Thursday despite his presence around the team, but was able to get back at it on Friday.
“I feel good,” Springer told the Toronto Sun following batting practice. “I had a little bug, not fun, but I’m all right.”
As tough as it was for Springer to watch for a couple of games and not be part of the last two wins against the Chicago White Sox, he had some perspective on the Jays’ winning streak.
“You’re starting to see the process of the season unwind a little bit, you’re starting to see guys settle in and get a little bit more acclimated to what’s been going on, getting pitched a little bit differently,” Springer said. “You’re starting to see who we are as a team a little bit, but there’s still a long way to go.
“There’s no quit. There’s a lot of fight, there’s a lot of belief, whether we’re up, down, it doesn’t matter. We’re starting to do the small things that we expected to do.”
RYU OUT MULTIPLE WEEKS
Pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu will miss multiple weeks, the Jays said, after an MRI on his left arm revealed a forearm strain and elbow inflammation.
The Jays will seek second opinions on Ryu before further decisions are made regarding his future.
Ryu, who missed a month with a similar injury before returning on May 14, had been placed on the 15-day injured list on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Ryu pitched four innings against the White Sox before departing because of forearm issues.
“We have a process, we have trainers and doctors and everybody says he’s OK to go,” said Montoyo, looking back at the decision to give Ryu the ball on Wednesday. “He agreed, everything was good and he still pitched well. You have to give him a lot of credit for trying.”
Righthander Ross Stripling will take Ryu’s spot in the rotation.