TDIB Saturday: Jays 7, Twins 1

Saturday, August 12 2006 @ 04:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Alex Obal

The beat goes on.

Really, it's getting predictable. After a frustrating loss, Halladay, Lilly and Burnett make a statement, and the bats start to come alive against some pretty good pitchers. Once again, the Jays find themselves two back-end wins away from the elusive Big Winning Streak.

Boxscore: Gopher it

Don't Look Now:
A.J. Burnett picked up his second solid win in a row, and this one was a laugher. His curveball was in Sick Mode the whole night. Burnett's line: 10 glorious strikeouts, 2 walks and 6 hits over 7 one-run innings. 80 of his 111 pitches were strikes.

One encouraging sign from yesterday's game was Burnett's performance with runners on. The Twins were 1-15 with runners on base with 9 strikeouts and 0 walks. (The hit was Jason Bartlett's RBI double in the 7th, which scored the Twins' lone run.)

Burnett stranded a leadoff double from Michael Cuddyer in the 2nd, a leadoff single from Luis Rodriguez in the 3rd, a leadoff walk from Joe Mauer in the 4th and a leadoff double from Jason Kubel in the 5th. Of course, it's much easier to deal with jams when your offense stakes you to a big lead and it's not even close to the end of the world if the guy batting homers or the guy on first steals a base, but this game has to be seen as a confidence builder at the very least.

Unsung Hero: John McDonald goes deep again! His two-run shot was his third longball of the year. Hands up, everyone who had Mac outhomering Aaron Hill.

Yeah, I believe you.

Matt Garza: Didn't have a great night. The Jays dinked him around for some cheap hits in the first: Cat's infield single to start the rally and Overbay's two-run, two-out bloop "double" could easily have gone for outs, but instead some rotten luck put Garza in a hole early.

After getting Reed Johnson to swing and miss twice en route to a leadoff strikeout, Garza didn't get another swinging strike the rest of the way. (He caught Vernon Wells looking at a called third strike.)

I recall Casey Janssen's first start being similar, though he didn't quite get hit as hard. Battling opening-day jitters, Janssen wasn't fooling anyone either, and he only lasted four innings against Baltimore. He settled down and soon started actively causing problems for major-league hitters. Like Janssen, Garza should have a reasonable run of success soon if the Twins stick with him while Francisco Liriano is out. And I'm no scout, but Garza's stuff certainly looks and sounds a bit better.

Today: It's Scott Downs against Boof! Bonser at 7:10. Downs is spot-starting. Bonser is making his return from a short AAA stint.

This will be Downs' fourth start of the year. As a curiosity, here's how he has fared in his other three:

April 7 vs TB: 5 ip, 3 r, 1 hr, 4 k, 1 bb, 71 pitches
April 14 at CWS: 2 ip, 5 r, 1 hr, 4 h, 3 k, 4 bb, 59 pitches
June 14 vs BAL: 2 ip, 3 r, 0 hr, 6 h, 1 k, 0 bb, 47 pitches

I would expect a pitch count around 70. Downs hasn't seen any action at all since going 3.1 innings against the White Sox seven days ago, so his leash shouldn't be particularly short by spot starter standards.

The Twins are tied for 11th in the AL in pitches per plate appearance. Downs is probably capable of eating four or five innings against such an aggressive lineup, though John Gibbons should be ready with the hook in case anything goes wrong early. Jason Frasor and Dustin McGowan are good to go; Brandon League went 2 innings two nights ago, Brian Tallet went 1, and just yesterday Jeremy Accardo and Scott Schoeneweis only went 1 apiece. The pen is deep, rested, and ready to contribute. Everyone is fair game to pitch at least one inning tonight.