MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Byron Buxton’s two-run homer spoiled José Berríos’ return to Minnesota and dealt a blow to Toronto’s postseason hopes as the Twins beat the Blue Jays 3-1 on Friday night.
Buxton hit his 15th home run of the season in a three-run third inning against Berríos (12-9), who was making his first start in Minnesota since being dealt to Toronto at the trade deadline.
Berríos pitched six seasons for the Twins after being a first-round draft pick by the club in 2012.
“He had his best stuff of the year, I think, tonight,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Berríos. “He made that mistake to Buxton. But other than that, he gave us a chance. He left the game 3-1 and it was just that one pitch.”
The final road trip of the season has complicated the Blue Jays’ chances for a playoff spot. Toronto is 1-4 on the trip after going 1-2 in Tampa Bay and losing the first two games in Minnesota.
The New York Yankees beat Boston 8-3 on Friday. The Blue Jays are two games back in the race for the AL's second wild-card spot.
“I know it’s kind of not the ideal time to lose three straight but that’s the game,” Toronto outfielder George Springer said. “We have to flush it. It is what it is. We’ve got our guy going tomorrow and we got to really get behind him and we’ll see what happens.”
Marcus Semien hit his 42nd home run for Toronto, a solo shot to the bullpens in left-center in the sixth inning. Semien is one homer shy of the all-time record for second basemen, set by Davey Johnson with Atlanta in 1973. He equaled Minnesota’s Brian Dozier (2016) and St. Louis Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby (1922).
Bailey Ober (3-3) surrendered one run over 5 1/3 innings for Minnesota, which has won four in a row, yet still sits in last place in the AL Central.
“He was very sharp,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Berríos. “His stuff was electric. He pitched very, very well. Our guys just pitched better today, and that’s really all it came down to.”
Berríos, who is 12th on the Twins’ all-time list in strikeouts and 15th in wins, received a warm ovation from the crowd after being announced. He walked Andrelton Simmons to open the third and Luis Arraez followed with a triple. Then, Buxton unloaded deep to straightaway centerfield for a homer against his former teammate.
Berríos finished with three runs allowed in six innings with 10 strikeouts.
“I still enjoy pitching at this ballpark,” Berríos said. “That’s the ballpark I made my debut. You said I pitched many times here. That’s going to be my home, but now we are a Toronto Blue Jay. It’s amazing how we can compete against the team that gave me an opportunity to be a big leaguer.”
GOOD AND BAD
Montoyo said the news on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s injured hand was good and bad. Gurriel doesn’t have any broken bones after his hand was stepped on by teammate Randal Grichuk on an outfield play in Thursday’s game. Gurriel did receive stitches in his middle finger.
Montoyo said Gurriel is day to day and he’s hoping he can DH on Saturday.
ROOM FOR MORE
The Blue Jays announced increased ballpark capacity for the final six home games of the season. Capacity will be increased to 30,000 for the final homestand of the regular season.
Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is required for all fans 12-and-under. The team said a negative COVID-19 test will no longer be accepted, except for individuals with a doctor’s note indicating they have a medical exemption.
Toronto hosts the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles in three-game series.
Blue Jays: RHP Joakim Soria was reinstated from the family medical emergency list. RHP Thomas Hatch, who was injured in Friday’s game, was placed on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring tendonitis. ... INF Santiago Espinal was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. INF Kevin Smith was optioned to Triple-A.
Twins: OF Max Kepler was out of the lineup as he deals with an illness unrelated to COVID-19. Baldelli said Kepler could possibly miss Saturday’s game as well. … Baldelli said RHP Joe Ryan will go on the family bereavement list. Ryan left the team Friday to travel to San Francisco to deal with a family-related matter.
Blue Jays: LHP Robbie Ray (12-6, 2.72 ERA) starts Saturday evening. Ray, the AL pitcher of the month for August, has allowed seven runs in 16 innings (3.94) over his last three starts.
Twins: Minnesota will activate John Gant (5-9, 3.76) from the injured list to start Saturday’s game. Gant has been out since Sept. 14 with a left abdominal strain.
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Brian Hall, The Associated Press