TORONTO – Logan Morrison summed up an ironic at-bat, a strange game in Rogers Centre, and maybe the entire Twins season in two sentences Monday.
“Baseball’s a weird game, man,” Morrison said after the Twins’ 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays. “You just never know.”
Morrison was talking about his fifth-inning matchup with Jays reliever Joe Biagini, an at-bat that took place, as always, with the opposing defense in an exaggerated shift toward right field. Ever mindful of the empty space on the left, Morrison squared around and prepared to bunt.
“It was a good time in the game. Put the leadoff runner on base,” Morrison said, but he pulled back when Biagini’s curveball bounced in the dirt. And on the next pitch?
“I guess I was just setting them up,” Morrison joked of his full-swing, 410-foot blast to straightaway center field, his 12th homer of the season. “Changeup right down the middle. Felt pretty good.”
It did for a player still trying to pull his batting average above .200, and for a team that had lost 12 of its past 13 road games. For a team that had dropped three straight to a last-place team, then traveled to its worst road park of the Target Field era.
“After the lack of offense in Kansas City, [it was nice] for us to come out and swing the bats well,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said after Morrison and Max Kepler homered and the Twins piled up 13 hits. If there were any lingering wounds from a weekend in Kansas City, they didn’t show.
In fact, their luck appeared quite the opposite of their Missouri breaks. After Joe Mauer doubled on the second pitch of the game, Eduardo Escobar hit a soft liner into shallow left field, the same sort of ball that Jake Cave dived for and missed in Kansas City, resulting in a game-deciding inside-the-park home run. This time, the miscalculation went the Twins’ way: Toronto left fielder Teoscar Hernandez threw himself at the ball, but missed it, and it bounded past him to the left field wall.
Escobar didn’t quite circle the bases, but he accepted the RBI triple, and the Twins had an early lead.
Morrison added to it with a two-RBI single in the third, and Mauer and Escobar singled home runs in the fourth. Then came Morrison’s odd homer, and Kepler’s, which was almost as unlikely as Morrison’s, given that he had told himself to back off a little bit.
“I struck out the two at-bats before, and I felt I was swinging too hard,” Kepler said of his homer. “So I just tried to put an easy swing on that one and put it in play, and it snuck out.”
He also contributed with his glove, colliding with the center field fence in order to rob Randal Grichuk of extra bases in the third inning.
The recipient of all this offense and defense was Adalberto Mejia, filling in as the Twins sort out their second-half rotation. The lefthander allowed eight hits over 5 ⅓ innings, but only one run.
“We’re hoping to see him trust his stuff in the zone, and not nitpick or try to strike everybody out all the time. Trust his defenders,” Molitor said. “If he can learn to be more efficient, it’ll go a long way, because last year he ran into pitch-count issues.”
Ervin Santana is scheduled to rejoin the team and start Wednesday’s game, so the Twins have six pitchers in the rotation.
“Don’t know what will happen,” Molitor said. “We know where we’re at in this part of the season, so we’ll wait and see. With six [starters], you have to think about how you want to go forward.”