The Toronto Blue Jays seek an opening series sweep of the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre on Sunday.
Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays
Minnesota lost for the second time in as many games yesterday, losing 6-1 to the Blue Jays in Toronto. “Definitely a tough day,” said center fielder Denard Span. “Nobody put the bat on the ball good off this guy.” The last time the Twins lost their first two games of the season was 1994. Additionally, the last time the squad started a season with three consecutive losses was when they started 0-4 at the beginning of the 1981 season. First baseman Justin Morneau is still looking for his first hit since July 7, when he suffered the concussion that kept him out for the remainder of the 2010 season. He has combined with catcher Joe Mauer to go 0-9 against Toronto starter Brett Cecil, who went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota. The team is 60-61 versus left-handed starters the last two-plus years.
Twins starter pitcher Nick Blackburn finished the 2010 season with a 10-12 record and 5.42 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) and comes in off a 3-1 performance in spring training. “I feel good. I’m ready to start the season,” Blackburn said. “I feel so much better about my mechanics right now. I almost feel like it’s quite a bit different than what I was doing last year.” The right-hander is 14-13 with a 3.82 ERA in 41 day outings in his career.
Toronto has thoroughly dominated the first two games of this series and has posted a 30-12 record against Minnesota since the start of the 2006 season, including a 15-5 mark at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays have homered six times in the series and clinched their seventh consecutive home series win over the Twins. The team led the majors last season with a club record 257 home runs and that recipe for success has carried over into the early part of the 2011 campaign. Toronto is 92-72 at home the past two-plus seasons.
Blue Jays starting pitcher Brett Cecil led the club with 15 wins last season and went 7-2 with a 4.46 ERA in 12 home starts last season. The left-hander finished the 2010 season with a perfect 4-0 record during the month of September but carried a 6.92 ERA in five starts. He is 5-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 lifetime starts during the day, allowing hitters to hit for a combined .266 average. In 22 starts on regular rest last year, he recorded a 12-5 mark and 3.56 ERA compared to a 3-2 record and 6.75 ERA in six starts on extra rest.
Bettors are likely to back the Blue Jays due to their 11-1 record versus right-handed starters, while the Twins are 0-6 when facing southpaws.