Posted May 10, 2012 on AP on Fox
After mowing down a potent lineup to earn his first career shutout, Toronto Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez may have a good chance for another gem against the major league-worst Minnesota Twins. Alvarez looks to help the Blue Jays continue their recent domination of the Twins as the teams open a four-game set Thursday night at Target Field. Five days after throwing six-plus innings of one-run ball in a 7-2 win over Seattle, Alvarez (2-2, 2.83 ERA) proved even more impressive in Friday's 4-0 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The 22-year-old right-hander went the distance, allowing six hits and a walk and throwing 71 of his 97 pitches for strikes. "He's got confidence," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Even if he's got two men on base, he's always a pitch away from slowing down any damage with a ground ball. We saw his overall composure last year in the 10 starts he made for us, and it continues right now." Averaging just 2.6 strikeouts per nine innings, Alvarez must succeed by pitching to contact and relying on the defense behind him. "I've always been a guy like that," Alvarez told the Blue Jays' official website. "I'm not going to make a lot of pitches, I'm going to be a guy that makes those guys swing the bat. There are going to be days when they're probably going to hit me, but I'm fine with that as long as I stay aggressive and make those guys swing the bat. That's my game plan." Toronto (17-14), which outscored Minnesota 44-14 while taking five of six meetings last season, has won 25 of the last 32 matchups in this series including four in a row and 12 of 14 in the Twin Cities. The Blue Jays bounced back from a three-game skid and salvaged a two-game split with Oakland with a 5-2 victory Wednesday. Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia all homered as Toronto improved to 3-3 on its 10-game road trip. "One thing that this team repeatedly does, it puts behind them some adversity and they go out and put together another good game," Farrell said. The Twins (8-22) are coming off their 13th loss in 16 games, falling 6-2 to the Angels on Wednesday. Minnesota, which ranks last in the AL with 102 runs, moved starter Francisco Liriano to the bullpen and optioned struggling third baseman Danny Valencia to Triple-A Rochester in an attempt to shake up the club. "We need to make some changes," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need some hits. We need some new life in here, the whole package." Minnesota tries to regroup behind Jason Marquis (2-1, 5.40), who suffered his first loss of the season in Saturday's 7-0 defeat at Seattle. The right-hander managed to limit the damage after issuing a career high-tying six walks, giving up two runs over six innings. Marquis hasn't faced the Blue Jays since June 14, 2008, when he threw seven-plus innings of one-run ball for the Chicago Cubs in a 6-2 victory in Toronto. Encarnacion is 8 for 16 with a pair of homers off Marquis.

After roster moves, Twins take on Blue Jays

After mowing down a potent lineup to earn his first career shutout, Toronto Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez may have a good chance for another gem against the major league-worst Minnesota Twins. Alvarez looks to help the Blue Jays continue their recent domination of the Twins as the teams open a four-game set Thursday night at Target Field. Five days after throwing six-plus...

Is Edwin Encarnacion Finally for Real This Time?

Edwin Encarnacion, the designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays who is also qualified in many fantasy leagues as a first baseman and third baseman, has gotten off to a roaring start in fantasy baseball 2012, making him one of the top players in the game right now. In the first month of the season, Edwin Encarnacion hit .322, with 8 homers, 21 RBI, and 4 stolen bases, which makes...

Blue Jays 6, Twins 2

Henderson Alvarez pitched seven strong innings to win his third straight start for the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-2 over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night. Alvarez (3-2) stretched his scoreless streak to 17 innings before second baseman Kelly Johnson's throwing error allowed the Twins to score in the third. Josh Willingham hit a home run in the sixth, but the 22-year-old Venezuelan...

Cordero blows third save for Blue Jays

So much for the Blue Jays' new and improved bullpen. The Blue Jays did not do much during the offseason, but they sure did rearrange their relievers. After all, last year's bullpen blew 25 saves. Some were in the same game and some in games the Blue Jays won. But they were only 33-for-58 in save opportunities. A little more than a month into this season, the new, improved...

Blue Jays manager Farrell makes changes

The Toronto Blue Jays demoted struggling closer Francisco Cordero, a day after he surrendered a game-ending grand slam to Brandon Inge in a 7-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Manager John Farrell met Wednesday morning with Cordero, who has 329 career saves but has blown his last three opportunities and has only converted two of five chances this season. The pitcher says he agrees...

Blue Jays promote Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero is going to Las Vegas, moving him one step closer to a return to the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto assigned the 37-year-old to their Triple-A affiliate on Friday. Guerrero, who signed a minor league deal with Toronto May 10, is scheduled to play Saturday when the 51's host Reno. A 16-year veteran, Guerrero reported to extended spring training...

One Man's opinion: Evaluating the Starting Nine

[Note: the following is a guest post written exclusively for The Southpaw. The views expressed are not necessarily identical to my own. ~Tammy]We are close to 30 games into the 2012 major league season and the Jays are hanging tough at 3 games above .500.  Considering the lineup, the Jays are doing pretty good. Today, I thought that I would take a look at the niners for the Jays...

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2

Adam Lind hit a two-run homer after being demoted from the cleanup spot before the game, and J.P. Arencibia and Edwin Encarnacion each hit a solo drive to help the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Wednesday. Brandon Morrow (4-1) struck out a season-high 10 in six innings and won his fourth straight start, outpitching Tyson Ross in a matchup of former college stars...

Vladimir Guerrero agrees to deal with Blue Jays

Vladimir Guerrero has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal was announced Thursday by the Blue Jays before a four-game series at Minnesota. General manager Alex Anthopoulos cautioned there's no guarantee the 37-year-old will join the big league team. Toronto will send him to extended spring training in Dunedin, Fla., and assess his condition...

Athletics 7, Blue Jays 3

Newcomer Brandon Inge hit a game-ending grand slam to cap a five-run ninth inning rally that led the Oakland Athletics to a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the ninth off Grant Balfour (1-1) when Eric Thames hit a leadoff triple and scored on Kelly Johnson's two-out single before the A's rallied to win it...
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