May 20th, 2024

Santana’s three-run homer lifts Twins over Jays in Manoah’s best start of the year

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on May 12, 2024.

Minnesota Twins Carlos Santana (30) is congratulated by third base coach Tommy Watkins (40) after hitting a three run home off Toronto Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah during seventh inning MLB baseball action in Toronto, Sunday, May 12, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Carlos Santana’s three-run homer in the seventh inning broke open a scoreless tie as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Sunday.

Max Kepler had a two-run double in the eighth as Minnesota (24-16) won the rubber match of the three-game series.

Bailey Ober (4-1) pitched one-hit ball over 6 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out 10. Cole Sands, Kody Funderbunk and Jhoan Duran came on in relief for the Twins.

Pinch-hitter Danny Jansen’s sacrifice fly in the seventh was the only run Toronto (18-22) could score. It was the first game of the season played with the roof open at Rogers Centre.

Alek Manoah (0-1) allowed three runs – all unearned – over seven innings to lower his earned-run average from 13.50 to 4.91 in his best outing of the year. He allowed four hits and a walk, striking out six.

Relievers Erik Swanson and Nate Pearson came out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen.

It was Manoah’s second start for the Blue Jays after he began the year on the injured list with shoulder soreness. He made several starts for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons before getting called up to Toronto.

Manoah earned an 0-2 record with an 8.69 earned-run average over five starts in minor-league play, striking out 28 over 19 2/3 innings.

In Manoah’s first MLB game of this season, he allowed seven runs, six earned, on six hits and four walks but struck out six over four innings on May 5 as Toronto lost to the Washington Nationals 11-0.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider said on Saturday that Manoah’s Cy Young Award-calibre season in 2022 was because he wasn’t afraid to pitch into the strike zone.

“He’s letting his stuff play in the zone and using his natural miss pattern to get swing and misses, too,” said Schneider. “The more he’s in the zone, I think with conviction, not flipping a breaking ball in there on a 2-1 count, it’s being in the zone with conviction as much as you can.”

Manoah seemed like his old self on Sunday, relying heavily on his four-seam fastball, throwing it for 39.7 per cent of his pitches. He mixed in his change-up 24.4 per cent of the time, using his sinker and slider each for 17.9 per cent of his pitches.

He gave up just two hits through the first 6 1/3 innings when Kepler reached based on Ernie Clement’s fielding error at third base. Willi Castro then singled, moving Kepler to second. Alex Kirilloff hit into a fielder’s choice, with Castro getting forced out at second.

That brought Santana to the plate with two out and two on.

He smashed an 86.9 m.p.h. change-up to right-centre field for his seventh home run of the season and a 3-0 Minnesota lead – although all three runs were unearned. Manoah only threw breaking balls to Santana in the at bat, with a slider and a change-up missing the zone before Santana’s homer.

Toronto cut into that lead in the bottom of the seventh when Jansen, pinch-hitting for Daniel Vogelbach, hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to score Vladimir Guerrero Jr. That made it 3-1 for the Twins.

Kepler answered back in the top of the eighth with a double to right centre off Swanson that brought home Carlos Correa and Quebec City’s Edouard Julien.

ON DECK – Jose Berríos (4-3) gets the start as the Blue Jays begin a three-game series in Baltimore on Monday.

Corbin Burnes (3-2) is scheduled for the American League East-leading Orioles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2024.

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