A lot has changed since Blue Jays last saw the Twins

By: Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

The last time the Blue Jays saw the Minneapolis Twins they were limping towards the buses at the Rogers Centre.

Hall of Famer Paul Molitor’s team has been manhandled by the new-look Jays in August.

Toronto swept the four-game, series by 5-1, 3-1, 9-7 and 9-3 scores as starters David Price, Marco Estrada, Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle recorded wins.

The Jays outscored the Twinks 26-12, like the way the Jays used to when their 1993 lineup consisted of Rickey Henderson, Devon White, Molitor, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Robbie Alomar, Tony Fernandez, Ed Sprague and Pat Borders.

At the time the four losses sunk the Twins’ record to .500 (54-54) after they had been 11 games above sea level in May. They left Toronto, went into Cleveland and went 29-22 to be reach within one game of the Houston Astros after Game 159. The Twins droped the final three games of the season to finish with 83 wins.   

This season Molitor’s pitching staff has made two many lineups look like they are headed to Cooperstown.

Phil Hughes, Sunday’s scheduled starter, was 27-19 with a 3.90 ERA in 57 starts in 2014-15. This season he is 1-6 with a 5.70 ERA. He was lifted due to shoulder fatigue after 75 pitches against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday.

The Twins have used eight starters this season in their first 39 games compared to nine a year ago in 162 games  when even reliever J.R. Graham made one spot start, . 

This year’s staff has the highest ERA in the American League at 4.98.

It’s not just the mound ... the Twins have scored less runs than anyone else in the AL.

Right-hander Ervin Santana, who shunned the Jays in the spring of 2014 to sign a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves makes his 320th career start in the opener Thursday against Marco Estrada. In his previous start, Santana gained his first win in six starts allowing a run on five hits in six innings against the Cleveland Indians.

Right-hander Tyler Duffey, off his first win of the season, when he pitched seven scoreless against the Indians on Sunday fanning six and allowing six hits.

J.A. Happ goes Saturday afternoon looking to bounce back from his worst start (a season-high eight earned and allowing two two-run homers. He’ll face lefty Pat Dean in his first start in the mjaors. Working out of the bullpen Monday he gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Tigers on Monday.

And in the finale, the man who decides whether the Jays take a “happpy flight” as Rafael Furcal used to chant after the St. Louis Cardinals won on getaway day is Marcus Stroman, who had the worst start of his career in the majors (allowing 13 hits and seven runs). Stroman is scheduled to face Hughes before the Jays head off to the small ball park in the Bronx.

Last year the Twins used eight starters Kyle Gibson (32 starts), Mike Pelfrey (30), Hughes (25), Tommy Milone (23), Santana (17), Trevor May (16), Duffey (10), Ricky Nolasco (eight) and Graham (one).

This season it has been Hughes (eight), Nolasco (seven), Santana (six), Duffey (four), Milone (four), Gibson (four), Jose Berrios (four) and Alex Meyer (one).

Stacking Up

Toronto         Minnesota

165     Runs       141

9         Rank          15

46       HR         38

.318      OBP       .304

3.70     ERA        4.98

4th         Rank          15th

.248        BAA      .282

300       K’s       306

Starting Pitchers


RHP Marco Estrada vs. RHP Ervin Santana 8:10 pm


RHP Aaron Sanchez vs. RHP Tyler Duffy 8:10 pm


LHP J.A. Happ vs. LHP Pat Dean 2:10 pm


RHP Marcus Stroman vs. RHP Phil Hughes 2:10 pm

Who’s Hot

Kurt Suzuki was 4-for-7 (.571) against the Tigers, after entering 2016 fifth among all actives in games caught (1,053).

Trevor Plouffe enjoyed the trip to Cleveland and Detroit batting .350 (7-20).

Danny Santana is 6-for-22 (.272) with three homers, five RBIs on the road.

Who’s Cold

Oswaldo Arcia is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.

Joe Mauer was 1-for-13 (.077) including a hitless day in four at-bats out of the lead-off spot.

Byung-ho Park was 1-for-11 (.090) as the Twins were swept in Detroit.