Twins’ offense held mostly quiet in loss to Blue Jays
Louie Varland did his job, limiting the potent Blue Jays offense to just three runs across his six innings of work. The bullpen — in this case Emilio Pagán and José De León — did its job, as well, throwing three scoreless innings after Varland’s departure to keep the team within striking distance.
So, too, did the defense, cutting down a couple of runners trying to score.
Well, it was another quiet day at the plate for the Twins, who, despite drawing nine walks, were unable to push runs across the plate. The Twins fell 3-1 to the Blue Jays on Friday night in the series opener at Target Field, finishing the day with just five hits.
“It was kind of an odd game because we didn’t swing the bats that well, but we had some good at-bats,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We got late in some counts, laid off some pitches in the latter half of these at-bats. Had some guys on base. We’ve got to bring those guys around. We didn’t do that. But there was constant action.”
Kyle Garlick drove in their only run in the game on an RBI double that left fielder Daulton Varsho dove at, got his glove on and just couldn’t grasp. Alex Kirilloff, who had walked to lead off the sixth inning, came around to score on the play.
But the Twins (26-25) weren’t able to do anything else in that inning, despite Blue Jays pitchers walking three batters. Center fielder Michael A. Taylor looked at strike three, a pitch that appeared to be low for ball four, but home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman felt otherwise. Donovan Solano grounded out after that, as the Twins’ woes with the bases loaded continued.
“It felt like I did what I wanted to do, got on base, took a quality at-bat and to have it taken away is unfortunate,” Taylor said. “But that’s the game. There’s human error in it. That’s part of it.”
The Twins’ inability to convert on their chances meant that the three runs the Blue Jays (27-25) scored off Varland in the third inning were more than enough.
After collecting the first two outs of the third inning, Kevin Kiermaier got ahold of a slider and took it out to right field. The next batter, George Springer, sent a double to right, and Bo Bichette followed by depositing another slider over the outfield wall, this one to center field. Those were the first two home runs Varland had given up on sliders this season.
“He ran into that run of Kiermaier, Springer, and Bichette. And, in my opinion, those are not the pitches he probably wants to throw, especially in those locations,” Baldelli said. “And those are just, I don’t want to say just pure mistakes, but I think we can have a better plan in those spots. Because he executed the rest of the game so well. Everything was right where you’d want it, except really in that run.”
Varland was helped by his defense over the course of his start.
In the first inning, shortstop Carlos Correa fielded a ball, caught Springer off third base in a rundown, charged toward him and tagged him and then threw to first to get Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had taken a wide turn, for an inning-ending double play. And in the fifth, third baseman Kyle Farmer threw out Kiermaier trying to score at the plate, stopping what would have been the Jays’ fourth run.
But the efforts — of Varland, of the bullpen, of the defense — ended up going for naught as the offense finished the day 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, leaving 13 runners on.
“It’s tough. It seems like we’re almost in every game, but we can’t finish it. This speaks about the team. We have a really good team, we just haven’t been able to put those clutch hits together in order to give our pitchers comfortable leads,” Correa said. “There’s still a lot of season left, but we’ve got to turn it on here pretty soon.”