Bautista, right on cue, rips another key homer

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2012 - 11:41 PM

P.J. Walters had a quality start in his Twins debut but also got a lesson on pitching with little offensive support.

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The Twins appeared to patch another hole in their starting rotation Saturday night. Now, if they could only fix the gaping holes in their lineup.

P.J. Walters arrived from Class AAA Rochester and held the hard-swinging Blue Jays to two runs over six innings, but rookie righthander Drew Hutchison was even more effective against the Twins.

Jose Bautista broke a sixth-inning tie with a home run to left field -- on a call overturned by the umpires after they viewed the video replay -- and Toronto held on for a 2-1 victory.

The first sellout crowd since the home opener spent a picturesque spring evening watching the Twins go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, as they fell to 4-15 in their past 19 games.

"We hit some balls hard," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They made some plays on us also, but we failed in a lot of opportunities."

As frustrating as the Twins' offensive struggles have been, starting pitching was their most glaring weakness until this week, when Scott Diamond and Walters joined the rotation.

Diamond replaced Liam Hendriks and tossed seven shutout innings to beat the Angels last Tuesday. Walters replaced Francisco Liriano and limited Toronto to six hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.

"They've handled themselves well," Gardenhire said of Walters and Diamond, who pitches Sunday's series finale. "We're looking for a shot in the arm. Our bullpen's beat to death out there, so we're looking for some quality starts, and we're getting them. We've got two of them so far. You need those if you're going to survive."

A quality start seems so basic -- at least six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed -- yet the Twins have received only nine of them in 33 games, ranking last in the majors.

The Twins are 4-5 when they receive a quality start, and this one loomed as a real wasted chance. In the fourth inning, Hutchison walked Ryan Doumit to load the bases, then walked Trevor Plouffe to force home the game's first run.

With Hutchison starting to struggle with his control, Chris Parmelee bailed him out by chasing a first-pitch changeup, below the knees, and grounding to shortstop to end the inning.

"I thought it was a fastball down, so he got me; he fooled me there," said Parmelee, who's now batting .188.

The Blue Jays tied it in the fifth on Adam Lind's RBI single and took the lead in the sixth when Bautista connected for his third homer in two nights, and his 10th in 10 games at Target Field.

"Full count and nobody on base, two outs, I'm going after him there," Walters said. "Spun one up there, and it got a little too much of the plate."

The Twins put runners at the corners the next half-inning, but Hutchison fanned Doumit for a big second out before Plouffe grounded out to end that threat. Plouffe, who is batting .130, also flied out to right field on the first pitch of a key eighth-inning at-bat.

With Parmelee due up next, the Blue Jays summoned lefthander Luis Perez, and Gardenhire sent Alexi Casilla to pinch hit, but he struck out, ending the Twins' last threat of another fruitless night.

  • TORONTO 2, TWINS 1 Up next: 1:10 p.m. today vs. Toronto Target Field • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

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