TORONTO – The Blue Jays’ bats went silent again Tuesday as Toronto’s hitters try to work through a major slump at the plate.
Running into some stellar opposing pitching isn’t helping matters, either.
Jose Berrios became the latest starter to quiet Toronto this season, going seven shutout innings in the Minnesota Twins’ 3-0 victory.
“Honestly the last two days has been (Minnesota’s) pitching,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “(Martin) Perez came in hot, pitched really well (on Monday) and Berrios is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
“I’m not making excuses, (but) they’re coming in hot. That’s a good lineup and a good team and their pitching has been very good.”
Mitch Garver homered and Marwin Gonzalez earned an RBI on a walk for the Twins (22-12), who handed the reeling Jays their fourth straight loss while Minnesota picked up its eighth win in 11 games.
Berrios (6-1) lowered his earned-run average from 2.91 to 2.53, allowing just four hits and striking out five. Relievers Trevor Hildenberger, Trevor May and Taylor Rogers preserved the shutout.
Berrios has gone three straight starts without walking a batter.
“I think more concentration pitch by pitch,” he said of his approach during that streak. “Trying to command my fastball down and away.”
Toronto (15-21) lost for the seventh time in eight games, including back-to-back shutouts by the Twins to open a six-game homestand. It was the Jays’ first time getting shut out in two straight games since July 9-10, 2015.
The Blue Jays held a hitters meeting before the game, which usually only happens prior to the first game of a series, but it seemed to do little to spark their stagnant offence. Toronto had six hits and managed just one extra-base hit — a double from Billy McKinney in the seventh.
“It was about making adjustments and to have a better approach at the plate, stop chasing bad pitches and stuff,” Montoyo said of the purpose of the hitters meeting. “I think we’re going to get there. But going back, we just faced two really good pitchers. Berrios is very good and he was on today.”
Aaron Sanchez (3-3) started for Toronto and allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings. He also walked three batters and struck out six in a 99-pitch outing.
The game began poorly for Sanchez, who walked Gonzalez with the bases loaded to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Sanchez needed 31 pitches to get out the frame, allowing a pair of hits and two walks.
But the 26-year-old right-hander settled in after the troublesome opening inning, giving up only three more hits until Garver launched a two-run homer off him to put the Twins up 3-0 in the sixth. The home run was Garver’s seventh of the season.
“That inning could have went so much different,” Sanchez said of the first. “(Max) Kepler gets a ground ball that he beats out, Garver swings on an 0-2 or 2-2 pitch that could have been the third out of the inning. Just a couple things that you can’t control in the course of a game but just to go seven innings and give that bullpen a much needed rest, it’s my job to do and that’s all the focus is tonight.”
Montoyo said he was impressed with Sanchez’s ability to bounce back from a rough start to the game.
“He minimized damage in the first inning and then he started throwing strikes and getting people out early in the count,” he said. “He was outstanding. He gave us a chance.”
Tuesday’s game marked Sanchez’s longest start of the season and put him over 500 career innings pitched (500 1/3). His six strikeouts tied a season high.
Top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. snapped a three-game hitless streak and an 0-for-12 slump with a single in the ninth.
Minnesota entered Tuesday with the second-best win percentage in the majors at .636, behind only the Tampa Bay Rays.
NOTES: Attendance was 14,039. … The two teams cap their three-game series Wednesday night. Right-hander Trent Thornton (0-3) starts for Toronto while the Twins counter with righty Kyle Gibson (2-1).
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