Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning and had a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Friday night, snapping a season-high five game losing streak.
Taylor generated all the scoring for the Twins, who had totaled seven runs in their previous six games.
“He’s been so valuable for us,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There’s no way around it.”
Royce Lewis hit an infield single off Adam Cimber (0-1) to begin the 10th, advancing automatic runner Ryan Jeffers to third. One out later, Taylor hit a flyball to left field and Jeffers slid home ahead of a bouncing throw from Whit Merrifield.
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“That was a much-needed win for us,” Twins starter Sonny Gray said.
Toronto loaded the bases against Jhoan Duran (2-2) in the ninth but couldn’t break through. After the Twins intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with first base open, Brandon Belt lined out to second base on a 3-2 pitch to send it to extra innings.
“Brandon squares up a line drive against a really, really good closer,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “It was a game of inches tonight.”
Baldelli said he chose to walk Guerrero after Alejandro Kirk grounded out and Bo Bichette struck out.
“He’s still one of the best hitters in the game and we didn’t want to let him decide the game,” Baldelli said of Guerrero.
Duran worked around a one-out walk in the 10th, getting a strikeout and a popup to end it.
“Everybody feels amazing,” Duran said. “We had a bad series in Tampa. Winning here in the first game, that’s good.”
Taylor made it 2-0 when he connected off left-hander Yusei Kukuchi for his ninth home run of the season and second in two games.
Bichette cut the lead in half with an RBI single off Gray in the bottom of the fifth, and the Blue Jays tied it with a two-out rally in the sixth.
George Springer pinch-hit for Cavan Biggio after Santiago Espinal’s two-out single, and the Twins countered by replacing left-hander Jovani Moran with right-hander Brock Stewart. Springer lined Stewart’s first pitch off the wall for an RBI double, taking third on the throw home.
Stewart struck out pinch-hitter Kirk to keep it tied.
Kikuchi allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four.
Gray gave up one run and five hits in five innings, walking two and striking out five.
Twins: LHP Caleb Thielbar was placed on the 15-day injured list because of a strained right oblique. Minnesota recalled RHP Josh Winder from Triple-A. St. Paul. ... OF Joey Gallo (strained left hamstring) went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his first rehab game with St. Paul.
Blue Jays: OF Kevin Kiermaier left Thursday’s game against Houston after he was hit on the left wrist by a pitch and didn’t start Friday, but came on to be the automatic runner in the 10th.
The Blue Jays cut RHP Anthony Bass Friday, one day after the reliever said he didn’t think an anti-LGBTQ+ social media post he shared last month was hateful. Toronto activated RHP Mitch White (elbow) off the 60-day IL.
Lewis went 4 for 4 with four singles, the first four-hit game of his career.
Hot in Canada
The Twins have won 12 of their past 16 games at Toronto.
RHP Joe Ryan (7-3, 2.76 ERA) starts for the Twins Saturday. The Blue Jays had not named a starter to replace Alek Manoah, who was demoted to the Florida Complex League earlier this week. RHP Bowden Francis is a candidate to start or come on after an opener.