Twins-Blue Jays Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 05, 2013
Despite the Toronto Blue Jays' recent struggles, facing them might not offer the Minnesota Twins a good opportunity to end their current slide. Looking to end their woes in Toronto, the Twins hope to avoid a sixth consecutive loss Friday night against a Blue Jays team trying to snap its own three-game skid. Minnesota (36-46) opened an eight-game homestand by winning two of three from Kansas City, but dropped the finale to the Royals before being outscored 29-14 while losing four straight to the New York Yankees. "It was a disappointing homestand," manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official website. The Twins have lost 10 of 13 and are mired in their longest losing streak since dropping 10 in a row from May 14-24. They'll play the final 10 before the All-Star break on the road, where they've averaged 3.0 runs while losing eight of 10. Minnesota has lost 15 of 19 to the Blue Jays (41-44), including seven of eight at Rogers Centre. The Twins haven't won any of their eight series in Toronto since 2005. Canada native Justin Morneau homered twice for Minnesota on Thursday, but rookie Kyle Gibson was tagged for eight runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-5 loss to the Yankees. Those were Morneau's only hits in 14 at-bats during that series. He's a lifetime .207 hitter at Toronto, but six of his 18 hits have been home runs. Teammate Joe Mauer went 3 for 29 with nine strikeouts on the homestand following an eight-game stretch in which he hit .444. He's 2 for 21 in his last six at Toronto. Morneau and Mauer are batting a combined .207 against scheduled Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.81 ERA). The left-hander has not faced the Twins since 2011, when he allowed seven runs - one earned - over 30 2-3 innings to go 2-1 in four starts against them. Buehrle is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last four at home, but his two most recent outings were on the road and he went 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 loss at Boston on Sunday. "I made some pitches and they found holes," Buehrle told the Blue Jays' official website. "That's why it's frustrating." Toronto opened a four-game home set against Detroit with an 8-3 victory Monday but was outscored 24-9 while losing the next three. The Blue Jays, who got six hits in Thursday's 11-1 loss to the Tigers, are 3-8 since winning 11 in a row. "That feels like a long time ago," manager John Gibbons said of the franchise record-tying streak. Jose Bautista went 0 for 4 on Thursday after hitting .524 in the previous six contests. Edwin Encarnacion was 1 for 2 with a walk after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Bautista and Encarnacion are hitting a combined .375 (9 for 24) with three homers and three doubles against scheduled Minnesota starter Kevin Correia (6-5, 4.08). Correia is looking to bounce back after he allowed five runs in five innings while not factoring in the decision of a 9-8 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. The right-hander had a 2.55 ERA in his previous three starts. He's 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays but hasn't faced them since 2011.
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