There's something about playing in Minnesota that seems to bring out the best in the Toronto Blue Jays. They'll try for a sixth straight victory at Target Field when they continue their four-game set with the major league-worst Twins on Friday night. Yunel Escobar had four hits while Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie each drove in two runs as Toronto (18-14) beat Minnesota 6-2 on Thursday for its second straight win since a three-game skid. The Blue Jays have won 13 of 15 at Minnesota since 2008, and have outscored the Twins 53-19 while going 7-1 all-time at Target Field.
Encarnacion is batting .414 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in Toronto's eight contests at Target Field. Escobar is 11 for 21 (.524) in his last five games at Minnesota. Toronto's latest victory in Minneapolis came hours after the team signed 37-year-old Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league contract. The veteran slugger batted .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 145 games for Baltimore in 2011. After Henderson Alvarez tossed seven strong innings Thursday to win his third straight outing, the Blue Jays hope Friday's scheduled starter Kyle Drabek (2-3, 3.34 ERA) can avoid losing a fourth consecutive outing for the first time in his career.
The right-hander had allowed two or fewer earned runs in his first five starts before surrendering five and walking five in a season-low five innings of a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles on Saturday. Like Drabek, Minnesota's Nick Blackburn (0-4, 6.84) will also try to avoid losing a fourth consecutive start. The right-hander allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-2 defeat at Seattle on Sunday. He yielded four of those runs in the first two innings. The Twins could use a solid outing out of Blackburn after starters Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis each lasted four innings in the Twins' last two contests. Josh Willingham hit his team-leading seventh homer Thursday for Minnesota (8-23), which has totaled 20 runs while losing eight of 10.
We get a decent price in this one, and given the fact that much of Toronto's early success is supported by balanced production, the runs should be plentiful this evening. Encarnarcion leads the Jays with 10 HR and 28 RBI while Kelly Johnson (.269 7 18) is also off to a good start. It's only a matter of time that Jose Bautista also finds his stroke. Toronto is hitting just .238 overall but Minnesota will need Blackburn to be economical without the tendency to get into early trouble as evident by his winless start and bukly ERA. In contrast, the Twins bats have been relatively silent all season except for Willingham (.313 7 18) who seems to be about the only bright spot on a consisent level with perhaps the exception of Ryan Doumit. Joe Mauer and Danny Valencia are due to bust out of their early slump and the Twins got some good news today as Justin Morneau reeived a cortisone shot on his sore wrist hopeful on making the next road trip. Best of luck however you play!