TORONTO — Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman judged the rubber-match loss to the Minnesota Twins as his worst outing of the season.
Gausman (5-4) surrendered nine hits and five runs (three earned), a walk and struck out three in an 8-6 loss that allowed the Twins (32-24) to take two of three in the weekend set against the Blue Jays (31-21) on Sunday.
The first-year Toronto righty lasted only 3 ⅔ innings. It was the first time in his 11 starts he didn't make it to the fifth inning.
In the first two innings, the Twins struck for five runs, laying off his usual effective splitter and making Gausman toss a whopping 54 pitches.
"Some of their guys laid off some pretty good splits that I was flabbergasted they didn't swing at," Gausman said. "You have to keep competing. We made an adjustment. Unfortunately, I threw a lot of pitches. It was a grind all day, and it was obviously my worst outing all year.
"Every team has a plan going Into games against my splits, whether they're going to be really aggressive and hope they get one up in the zone or they flatly don't swing."
Fielding blunders from right-fielder Teoscar Hernandez and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., hindered Gausman's cause. They lost balls in the sky that should have been outs.
After designated hitter Luis Arraez belted one of his four singles and Gary Sanchez followed with another base hit, Hernandez lost Jorge Polanco's fly ball to right in the overcast sky.
Arraez scored, and Sanchez came home on Gio Urshela's ground ball to short. Then, Polanco scored on a Jose Miranda single to right.
Miranda hit a weak foul pop-up earlier in his at-bat that Guerrero bailed on because he couldn't pick up the ball.
Both Hernandez and Guerrero were not wearing sunglasses in the first inning but came out with shades in the second.
"It was cloudy, and then the sun came out," Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. "I'm not defending my players, but that's not the first time people drop fly balls in baseball. It's happened for 100 years. "It sucks when it happens to you. It costs us two runs."
"Cloudy, grey, tough to see obviously," Gausman added when asked to interpret the first-inning sky.
"Obviously, it was frustrating. These guys do everything they can before the game to take fly balls. Sometimes you just can't see the ball. It was unfortunate to start the game that way."
After George Springer led off the bottom half with his 11th homer, the Twins struck for two more runs in the second inning. Nick Gordon led off with a triple and scored on a base hit from Jermaine Palacios.
Another Arraez single to left, a sacrifice fly from Sanchez and an infield hit from Polanco scored Palacios.
"The damage already was done," said Gausman, who went primarily with his fastball the rest of the way.
Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk smacked his fifth homer, fourth in five games, with two out in the fourth inning, while Minnesota's Trevor Larnach and Toronto's Matt Chapman traded round-trippers in the seventh.
Sanchez landed a two-run shot in the eighth, and Toronto infielder Santiago Espinal made it close with a three-run blast to left in the ninth.
Minnesota starter Devin Smeltzer benefitted from the Twins' 16-hit attack, but he was sound in his four innings, yielding two homers and only four hits. Reliever Jharel Cotton (2-1) picked up the victory.
Springer's first-inning homer was his seventh leadoff round-tripper of the season, surpassing Devon White's club record of six in 1991.
The Blue Jays hit the road for a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals and a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.
On Monday, right-hander Ross Stripling (1-1, 4.22 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays in the opener against Kansas City lefty Daniel Lynch (2-4, 4.81 ERA).
Toronto's Alek Manoah (6-1, 1.98 ERA) and Yusei Kikuchi (2-2, 3.91 ERA) are slated to pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2022.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press