The Canadian Press
TORONTO–With the Blue Jays lacking a starter for last night’s game, manager John Gibbons hoped to find an answer in his bullpen.
The end result wasn’t quite was he was looking for but Gibbons did see a glimmer of hope in three scoreless innings from Jaime Garcia to close out the game.
“I tip my hat to him,” Gibbons said following an 8-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game series.
“He really saved us late there so we didn’t have to use some other guys.
“That’s as good and under control as I’ve seen him [Garcia] this year,” Gibbons added.
“He looked really relaxed and everything was smooth. . . . We liked what we saw, that’s for sure.”
Garcia retired nine-straight batters, striking out three, over the seventh to ninth innings. And he needed just 28 pitches to do it.
The 32-year-old left-hander, who missed three weeks of the season with shoulder inflammation from June to July, had pitched just 2/3 innings of relief in Boston before the all-star break since returning from the disabled list.
A starter throughout his career, Garcia said he’s comfortable with a bullpen role.
“One of the things I’ve learned through my career is literally adapt to any situation that comes my way and whatever the circumstances are,” he remarked.
“My mentality is just stay focused and execute pitches when it’s my time to take the mound, whether it’s starting or bullpen,” Garcia noted.
“I’ve been trying to do my best to learn from the other guys in the bullpen,” he added.
“At the end of the day when I go out there, I can pretty much adapt to whatever’s in front of me, whatever they need me to do.”
Max Kepler hit a two-run homer and Logan Morrison added a solo shot and drove in three runs to lead Minnesota’s offence.
Eduardo Escobar drove in a pair for the Twins (45-53) while Joe Mauer went 3-for-5 with an RBI.
Adalberto Mejia (1-0) allowed one run and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings while striking out three and walking two.
The Jays (46-53) tried to rally in the ninth, scoring two on a Yangervis Solarte sacrifice fly and Kendrys Morales single, but the comeback fell short.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was another bright spot for Toronto, going 2-for-4 with a homer to extend his multi-hit streak to six games.
The last Toronto rookie to record two-plus hits in six-consecutive games was John Olerud back in 1990.
“I’ve been working hard trying to do everything well,” Gurriel said through a translator.
“Things are going well for me now and hopefully it’s going to stay that way.”
Luis Santos (0-1) pitched two innings in his first major-league start and allowed three hits and a run, walked a batter, and struck out three.
The Twins got to the 27-year-old right-hander early–and were helped by a couple of miscues from Teoscar Hernandez in left field–as Mauer led off the first with a double and scored on Escobar’s triple for a 1-0 Minnesota lead.
Morrison tacked on two runs in the third with a single off Tim Mayza.
His fifth-inning homer off Joe Biagini gave Minnesota a 6-1 lead before Kepler sent a pitch over the right-field wall to plate two more.
The Twins also scored twice in the fourth with base hits from Mauer and Escobar.
“We got what we actually wanted out of Santos, then they got to us,” Gibbons said. “We put that run on the board and they opened it up. . . .
“A lot of hits but not too many runs tonight,” he added. “We left a lot of guys on base.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Boston beat Baltimore 5-3, Tampa Bay topped New York 7-6, Oakland bombed Texas 15-3, Detroit edged Kansas City 5-4, and Chicago downed L.A. 5-3.
Over in the NL, L.A. topped Philadelphia 7-6, Atlanta routed Miami 12-1, Cincinnati nipped St. Louis 2-1, San Diego shaded New York 3-2, Arizona dumped Chicago 7-1, and Milwaukee beat Washington 6-1.
Pittsburgh blanked Cleveland 7-0 (six innings) in interleague play.