Baseball / Sports

Twins start fast, fall late to Jays

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Twins took advantage of an opportunity to tie the score against Toronto in the ninth inning Monday.

Unfortunately for them, the Blue Jays got a walk-off single from reserve outfielder Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the inning to win 5-4 at Rogers Centre.

The Twins had rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth, but Matt Guerrier opened the ninth with a walk to Dioner Navarro. Guerrier was replaced by Casey Fien with one out, but Jose Reyes' single put two runners on for Pillar.

The Twins have lost four of five to fall a season-high four games below .500.

The game should have been over in the top of the ninth.

With one out and pinch runner Aaron Hicks on first, Trevor Plouffe sent a routine grounder to third baseman Jed Lowrie. He threw to second baseman Steve Tolleson for the force at second. Tolleson, a former Twins draft pick, couldn't get the ball out his glove to complete what would have been a game-ending double play. It would have been the fourth inning in a row the Twins grounded into a double play.

Instead, with the Twins given one more out, Kurt Suzuki lined an RBI double to left past a sprawling Pillar. Eduardo Escobar followed with a blooped double just out of the reach of Lowrie, and Suzuki hustled home with the tying run.

R. A. Dickey lacked control early, and the Twins pounced.

Danny Santana, batting lefthanded against the knuckleballer, led off the game with a home run right-center. Brian Dozier made it back-to-back homers with a towering drive to left. The Twins were off to a fast start.

But it's hard for opponents to slug with the Blue Jays.

There will be little room for error for the Twins on this road trip. But Ricky Nolasco made a couple in the first inning.

Handed that 2-0 lead in the first, Nolasco gave up a one-out single to Melky Cabrera and walked Jose Bautista on a very close pitch. Adam Lind struck out, but Edwin Encarnacion got hold of a down-and-in fastball and crushed it to left for a three-run homer, undoing all the work the Twins did in the top of the inning.

Nolasco found a groove, retiring nine in a row at one point. But Jose Reyes led off the fifth with a solo home run to make it 4-2.

Kendrys Morales made his Twins debut in the first inning. That's right. Kendrys Morales.

The Twins signed the free agent on Sunday. On Sunday night, he decided that he wanted to play despite not playing any organized baseball games since Sept. 29.

"He's been sitting for four months," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's thought about it. He watched the game yesterday and he wants to play. I've got no problem with that. I told him he's got to let me know how he's feeling."

Morales has been working out at Scott Boras' facility in Florida facing some pitching down there and working out six days a week. His presence in the lineup on Monday made the Twins' batting order look deeper -- but that only happens once the rust is knocked off.

"I have never done this before," Gardenhire said. "He wants to play. He's been working out. He's been swinging against pitchers down there, in Florida. Against guys who are looking for jobs. And he's been hitting off those guys, it's good enough for me. You can wait two weeks. You can wait three or four days. I don't have a time frame. He's been working out.

"Here we are. We put him in there. I'm excited about it. It gives me something to be more entertained about.''

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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