TORONTO – Andrew Albers called it "a dream come true, an experience I'll never forget." Alex Wimmers got a little emotional as he walked off the mound, had to wipe his eyes as he reached the dugout. "My heart's still racing," he said.
So at least the new guys had a good time.
For the rest of the Twins, though, it was the same old slog, another blowout loss in a lengthening stretch of them. Friday's 15-8 loss to the Blue Jays was their eighth loss in a row, and it brought back some unpleasant memories the Twins hoped were behind them.
The eight-game skid equals the Twins' ugliest — though not longest — span of losing this season, a stretch from May 3-13 in which they were outscored 63-26. The current tally on this streak: Opponents 65, Twins 26.
"The losing streak is heavy for a lot of us," manager Paul Molitor said. "It's tough when you give up 15 [and] lose by a touchdown."
Feeding off the energy of a huge crowd, AL East-leading Toronto slugged four home runs, three with runners on; racked up three doubles and eight singles; and overpowered fill-in starter Pat Dean (six runs in three innings) and most of the five pitchers who followed him (a combined nine runs in four innings).
"We threw [Dean] out there in a tough environment," Molitor said. "He was around the plate, but he threw a lot of pitches which were just missing, causing him to come in there a little bit. The two home runs in the second [inning], both on three-ball counts — he had to throw strikes and they didn't miss them."
Justin Smoak smacked a three-run homer in the second inning to trigger the Blue Jays. The Twins, aided by four walks over five innings by Francisco Liriano, got within 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning before Toronto scored four runs in the sixth and five more in the seventh behind five RBI from Russell Martin.
Only the pair who joined the team Friday could say the night was memorable. Wimmers, the Twins' 2010 first-round pick whose career has been a labyrinth of operating rooms and rehab sessions, retired all three batters he faced in his major league debut, two by strikeout, with wife Amy and 2-month-old daughter Andi in the crowd.
"It's awesome, a great experience," Wimmers said, and his eyes welled up as his teammates congratulated him. "I've been around these guys for a while. I'm just very fortunate that they all have my back and support me."
For Albers, the event was a patriotic one — it was the first time the Saskatchewan native had ever pitched a major league game in Canada. He had stood on the Rogers Centre mound when he was 17 at a Pro Elite scouting camp, "but a few more people in the stands tonight. I tried to relish it," said Albers, who pitched a game for the Blue Jays last year, but it was at Cleveland. "Watching those '90s [championship] teams, back when it was SkyDome — you always dream of pitching here one day."
• Hector Santiago's thumb has improved enough that the lefthander will return to the Twins' rotation on Monday in Cleveland, Molitor said. "We're hoping the extra couple days is beneficial to him," Molitor said of the Twins' Aug. 1 acquisition, who has a 10.89 ERA in four starts. The rest of the rotation in Cleveland hasn't been finalized, but Molitor said he's leaning toward Albers starting Tuesday, even after 30 pitches Friday.
• Joe Mauer sat out for the third consecutive game, partly because Molitor is cautious about using him on the Rogers Centre turf for three days with sore quads. He could return Saturday.