Series Preview: Blue Jays at Twins, May 10-13


The Toronto Blue Jays have flown into the Twins’ nest. The home team will have to fight hard to avoid laying another egg against these angry birds.

The Matchups:

Thursday, May 10, 7:10 CDT: RHP Jason Marquis vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez

Friday, May 11, 7:10 CDT: RHP Nick Blackburn vs. RHP Kyle Drabek

Saturday, May 12, 6:10 CDT: TBA vs. RHP Drew Hutchinson

Sunday, May 13, 1:10 CDT: LHP Scott Diamond vs. LHP Ricky Romero

Do not let Jason Marquis face Edwin Encarnacion if it can be avoided. The Jays’ designated hitter has a .500/.556/.938 line against the Twins’ sinkerballer with a pair of homers in 18 PAs. Encarnacion is not a fearsome hitter overall, but he can kill the Twins. He has five homers and a 1.521 OPS in seven games at Target Field. Blackburn might fare better. The current Blue Jay roster has just a .288 OBP against him. Diamond has never faced the Jays.

Hutchinson and Alvarez are likewise facing a brand new opponent. Drabek has faced the Twins, but only once. Unfortunately for Minnesota, he tossed seven innings, struck out seven, and allowed just one run. Toronto ace Romero has had even more success versus the Twins. He is a perfect 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts.

The Weather:

There should be some excellent baseball weather for this series, with high temperatures hovering right around 70 degrees each of the four days. Friday might spoil the party, though, as there could be clouds and a 40% chance of thunderstorms.

The Head to Head:

Since the Jays were born in 1977, they have had a lot of success against the Twins. Minnesota has won 151 matchups, but Toronto has won 191. The Twins’ .440 winning percentage against Toronto is the second worst against any team (only the Yankees have beaten this franchise at a higher rate). The Twins can hold one thing over the Blue Jays’ heads, though: in the one and only playoff matchup between the two, Minnesota won the 1991 ALCS four games to one.

The Twins haven’t won the season series against the Jays since 2005. Last year Toronto won five of six. Some of the worst moments in recent Twins history have come against the Blue Jays. The tone was set for last year’s awful season when Toronto massacred the Twins 13-3 on Opening Day. The year before, Justin Morneau‘s career received a crippling blow when he suffered a concussion sliding into second base in a game at Toronto.

The Story:

Minnesota just finished losing another series to the Angels. After an inspiring performance by Diamond, Carl Pavano lasted just four innings in the rubber match. In their last eight series, the Twins are 0-6 with two splits. They are still last in the Major Leagues in pitching with a 5.49 ERA. The offense has sunk equally low; after Thursday’s loss, the Twins are last in the league in runs scored as well, with 102. Perhaps the only recent encouraging sign was Diamond’s seven scoreless inning performance on Tuesday; we’ll find out if that was a fluke on Sunday.

Darin Mastroianni joins the Twins just in time. The former Blue Jay, who was acquired off waivers by the Twins this spring, probably relishes a chance to play his former team. The way he was playing at AAA, the Twins had no choice but to call him up. He was hitting .346/.393/.423 for Rochester.

Unlike the Twins, the Jays have had no trouble scoring runs. They enter play fourth in the AL with 146 men across home plate. The pitching has been better than average as well (3.87 ERA). The team as a whole just ended a three game losing streak with a victory over the lowly A’s on Wednesday. Before the losing streak, they had won four in a row. Overall, Toronto is 17-14, still in the thick of the early AL East race.

The Bottom Line:

Bad things happen when the Twins play the Jays. The sooner they leave, the better.