TORONTO — Missed opportunities proved costly for the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the ninth inning but couldn't score against Twins fireballer Jhoan Duran, who got Brandon Belt on a lineout to force an extra frame.
Michael A. Taylor, who hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th to plate the go-ahead run as Minnesota (32-32) ended a five-game losing streak.
"Our bullpen was good and the defence was solid," said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. "We just didn't really get that hit when we needed to."
It was Toronto's first loss in four games. The Blue Jays left 12 runners on base.
Ryan Jeffers started the 10th inning on second base as the automatic runner. He moved to third on an infield single by Royce Lewis.
Taylor's fly ball off Blue Jays sidearmer Adam Cimber (0-1) was caught by left-fielder Whit Merrifield, who was charged with an error on the throw to home plate.
With Kevin Kiermaier on second base to start Toronto's half of the 10th, Duran issued a one-out walk to Merrifield before striking out Daulton Varsho and getting Santiago Espinal on a pop-up to end it.
"Throwing 103 with a 99 mile-an-hour splitter is tough," Schneider said. "He's been doing it for a while. I thought our at-bats were good against him. That's an uphill battle. I don't know how you throw a splitter that hard."
Duran (2-2) trimmed his earned-run average to 1.44 with his two-inning performance.
"He made a lot of things happen today," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. "Just a heck of an outing from him."
Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi gave up a double to open the game, but the Twins couldn't capitalize.
The left-hander eventually settled in and retired eight in a row until Lewis beat out an infield single in the fifth.
Lewis would score on Taylor's ninth home run of the season.
The Blue Jays halved the deficit against Twins starter Sonny Gray in the bottom half when Bo Bichette singled to bring home Espinal from second base.
Toronto loaded the bases with one out, but Gray struck out Belt and got Matt Chapman to hit into a fielder's choice.
Kikuchi allowed four hits, a walk and two earned runs over five innings. He had four strikeouts.
Gray also lasted five frames. He allowed one earned run, five hits and a pair of walks while fanning five.
Chapman made a highlight-reel defensive play in the sixth. He fully extended his frame to snag a scorching liner by Kyle Farmer near the third-base line.
The Blue Jays tied it when pinch-hitter George Springer welcomed Twins reliever Brock Stewart to the game with a double that scored Espinal.
Springer took third base on the throw, but was stranded when pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk struck out.
Lewis had a four-hit game for the first time in his career. Toronto outhit Minnesota 8-7.
Announced attendance was 35,222 on the first night of the Blue Jays' Pride Weekend. The game took two hours 59 minutes to play.
The Blue Jays designated right-hander Anthony Bass for assignment before the game and reinstated right-hander Mitch White (elbow) from the 60-day injured list.
The Twins placed left-hander Caleb Thielbar on the 15-day IL with a right oblique strain. The move was retroactive to June 6.
Longtime LGBTQ advocate leZlie Lee Kam helped kick off Pride Weekend by throwing the ceremonial first pitch.
Bass was originally tabbed to catch the ball, but right-hander Kevin Gausman filled in instead.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press