Taking a look at the head-to-head between the Blue Jays and Twins this season
Photo credit:Toronto Blue Jays
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
It appeared inevitable for quite some time that the Blue Jays would square off in a Wild Card rematch with the Rays at The Trop, but plans changed on the last day of the season and now the Blue Jays are starting the playoffs with the winner of the American League Central.
At a quick glance, the Blue Jays and Twins appear to be a fairly even match. Both teams won three games over the course of their six-game season series and they finished two games apart in the standings when it was all said and done.
There’s a lot to be said about those two records and the quality of opponents faced along the way but how the teams fared head-to-head is really what matters heading into a playoff series. Here’s a refresher on what happened in those games.
Friday, May 26 to Sunday, May 28 in Minnesota
The Blue Jays went into Minnesota following a miserable slog in which they won just two of eleven games against the Yankees, Orioles, and Rays while the Twins had just dropped back-to-back series against the Giants and Angels.
In the opener, Kevin Gausman went five-and-one-third innings and only allowed one run. Bo Bichette and Kevin Kiermaier hit homers in the third inning and the bullpen locked down a 3-1 win for the Blue Jays.
The second game saw Chris Bassitt get drilled for seven runs over four innings of work while the Blue Jays scored four runs off of Pablo Lopez. The Blue Jays mounted a late rally but wound up losing by a score of 9-7. Kevin Kiermaier hurt himself when throwing a ball in from the outfield early in this game and didn’t play the rest of the series.
José Berríos got the ball in the rubber match and he shut down his former club over five-and-two-thirds innings. Trevor Richards, Erik Swanson, and Jordan Romano were excellent the rest of the way and the Blue Jays won by a score of 3-0.
Friday, June 9 to Sunday, June 11 in Toronto
The Blue Jays went on a nice run after leaving Minnesota. They won two of three at home against the Brewers, they swept the Mets in New York, and then won three of four against the Astros at home. The one loss in that Houston series was Alek Manoah’s one-out implosion that resulted in him being sent to the Florida Complex League, which played a big role in their second series with the Twins.
The Twins rolled into Toronto on a five-game losing streak after being swept at The Trop by the Rays. In the series opener, Sonny Gray and Yusei Kikuchi both pitched well over five innings and Toronto’s bullpen was the first to crack. Adam Cimber came in for the 10th inning and allowed the go-ahead run. Trevor Richards likely would have been the ideal reliever for this situation but he was lined up to start the second game of the series in place of Manoah.
Richards tossed three scoreless frames and Tim Mayza and Bowden Francis combined to give the Blue Jays four more innings while allowing only one run. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays scored three runs off of Minnesota starter Joe Ryan over six innings and carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth. Cimber came into the game next and got drilled for six runs and then the Blue Jays waved the white flag by bringing in Mitch White to mop up the game.
It looked like the Twins would manage a sweep as Gausman was chased from the series finale in the fifth inning after allowing six runs. But the unlikely duo of Thomas Hatch and Nate Pearson combined to shut the Twins out for three-and-one-third innings after Gausman came out and Cavan Biggio smashed a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the Blue Jays edged out a 7-6 victory.
What can we learn from Minnesota and Toronto’s season series?
Things are different in October than they were in May and June, so the three wins each between the Blue Jays and Twins might not accurately reflect how the teams stack up right now.
Two of Minnesota’s wins came on the heels of Toronto’s pitching staff scrambling to compensate for Manoah’s demotion and the reliever the Twins hammered won’t be pitching in the playoffs. The Blue Jays also improved their pitching depth by acquiring Jordan Hicks and Genesis Cabrera while the Twins stood pat ahead of the August 1 trade deadline.
The Twins played well down the stretch and their strong starting pitching and powerful lineup make them a formidable October opponent, but this is still the team that finished seventh in the American League standings. The Blue Jays are stronger now than when they faced the Twins in the first half of the regular season and this is a playoff series that they should win.
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