Saturday was always going to be a bullpen day for the Twins, with John Gant making his return to the mound after a trip to the injured list because of a lower abdominal strain. Gant lasted three innings before manager Rocco Baldelli "let the train start coming through," as he put it.
The Blue Jays made sure that five-pitcher train encountered some hiccups on its route as they won for the first time in this four-game series with a 6-1 victory at Target Field, ending the Twins' four-game winning streak.
The Twins offense couldn't provide a jolt to keep up with Toronto's power surge, which included home runs from Teoscar Hernandez, Marcus Semien and George Springer. The Twins scored in the first inning but were held to three hits on the night.
Gant made it through three innings and allowed two runs, one earned, while Toronto starter Robbie Ray (13-6) gave up only one run over six innings as he used almost two pitches exclusively, a fastball and slider.
"A guy like this you definitely have to capitalize every opportunity you can because you're only going to get so many," Baldelli said. "He misses a lot of bats … Ultimately when he needed to get some outs he pulled it together."
The Twins got on the board first, but there could have been more for them if not for a high-degree-of-difficulty catch from Springer in center.
With runners on first and third, Mitch Garver, the designated hitter, gave one a ride to the deepest part of the park near the 411-foot sign in center. Springer sprung toward the fence and nabbed an extra-base hit away from Garver as Jorge Polanco tagged and scored. The Twins were on the board though the inning came to a halt after that, and they would get only four runners as far as second base the rest of the night.
"I feel like the types of at-bats we had tonight were good," Baldelli said. " We just needed more of them and we needed a big hitter too as well."
The Blue Jays wasted no time compensating for allowing that first run. Hernandez took a cutter from Gant and made it disappear 439 feet away in the centerfield greenery.
The Blue Jays added an unearned run on a double from Randal Grichuk as Santiago Espinal scored when Brent Rooker misplayed a ball in right field before getting Grichuk out at third on a cutoff throw from Miguel Sano. Espinal scored before Grichuk recorded the third out.
After two perfect innings from Twins reliever Jovani Moran, Toronto added a third run off Luke Farrell when Semien hit his 43rd home run to left center. Springer added his homer to left off Kyle Barraclough in the seventh.
"It's not an easy take anytime when you're facing a lineup like this," Baldelli said.
- With family, friends and other members of the Twins Hall of Fame looking on, Justin Morneau became the 34th member of the club in a ceremony before the game. Joe Mauer introduced Morneau and Rod Carew gave him his blue jacket. In his speech, Morneau thanked several members of the organization past and present and along with former teammates, family and the fans, a speech he said he tried to get through without crying. "I thank you guys truly for helping me become the player and man that's standing here now," Morneau said.
- Luis Arraez was taking ground balls at first place before Saturday's game, with Baldelli saying there could be a time Arraez starts at first. "There are days where we want to get as many lefthanders as we can out there," Baldelli said. "That's another way to do it."