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Guerrero’s 3 RBIs help Jays rally past Twins 10-8

TORONTO – As Vladimir Guerrero Jr., came to the plate in the sixth inning the fans at Rogers Centre gave him a standing ovation, already anticipating that he’d be able to drive in the tying run and maybe the go-ahead score.

He didn’t disappoint.

Guerrero’s two-run single in the sixth was his fourth hit as he finished with three RBIs, a run, and a stolen base to help the Toronto Blue Jays rally past the Minnesota Twins 10-8 on Saturday. Guerrero said he knew the 35,069 fans were cheering him on when he came to the plate.

“I kind of noticed that but I’ll be honest with you, I was just locked in,” said Guerrero through translator Hector Lebron. “I heard everything but I was locked in.”

Guerrero’s 4-for-5 performance improved his batting average from .253 to .272 in a single afternoon. It’s a stark turnaround as his batting average sank as low as .182 on April 6 and was at .229 on April 30.

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The 25-year-old was philosophical about his struggles, invoking the Spanish phrase “la pelota es redonda pero viene en caja cuadrada” which literally translates to “the ball is round but it comes in a square box,” a Latin American metaphor for the unpredictable nature of baseball.

“It’s a long season, six months, you never know,” said Guerrero. “I mean sometimes it’s a lot of ups and downs, sometimes you’re going to be hot sometimes you’re going to be cold.

“It just took me a while to get the feel the way I feel right now and hopefully it keeps going.”

Ernie Clement’s RBI single in the seventh inning gave Toronto (18-21) its first lead of the game. The Blue Jays reeled off seven unanswered runs in the comeback.

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Danny Jansen had a two-run homer, while Bo Bichette and Davis Schneider each had a solo shot in Toronto’s offensive surge. Schneider also had a sacrifice fly for another RBI and Daulton Varsho had an RBI double.

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“We have that mindset of no matter how many runs we’re down we’re capable of coming back,” said Schneider, who finished the game 3 for 4 to lift his average from .265 up to .287. “Just put together good at bats and good things will happen.”

Kevin Gausman laboured through three innings, giving up seven runs — six earned — on 10 hits and two walks but striking out six.

Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., Trevor Richards, Erik Swanson, Yimi Garcia and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., came out of Toronto’s bullpen. Swanson (1-2) earned the win and Romano got his sixth save of the season.

“That was incredible to watch,” said Gausman. “The bullpen and offence really just picked me up completely.

“From when I left the game to where it ended was a big difference. Nobody quit. Nobody gave in.”

Carlos Santana’s three-run homer gave Minnesota (23-16) a six-run lead in the third inning. Ryan Jeffers had a solo blast.

Alex Kirilloff and Carlos Correa hit RBI singles to gave the Twins a 3-0 lead in the first, and Trevor Larnach drove in another run in the second.

Simeon Woods Richardson gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings, with two strikeouts. Cole Sands, Steven Okert, Jay Jackson, Caleb Thielbar, Josh Staumont came on in relief, with Jackson taking the loss.

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After Minnesota built its 4-0 lead, Bichette hit his second home run of the season to end a 25-game homerless drought dating back to April 9.

Santana extended Minnesota’s lead in the third with his three-run shot that also scored Willi Castro and Santana for a sizable 7-1 Twins lead.

Schneider doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning and then scored when Varsho doubled to right. Guerrero then singled to score Varsho.

Jeffers quieted the crowd in the next inning, hitting a towering shot to lead off the fourth.

A three-run fifth inning brought the Blue Jays back into the game.

Schneider led off the inning with his fourth homer of the season.

After Guerrero singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Jansen sent a line drive 376 feet into Toronto’s bullpen to make it 8-6.

“I didn’t think we were out of it at all, but when (Jansen) hit the homer, I was like we’re gonna win this thing, just because we have the momentum,” said Schneider.

The top of the Blue Jays order struck again in the sixth, with Guerrero’s single — his fourth of the game — bringing home Cavan Biggio and Schneider to tie the game 8-8.

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The rally continued in the seventh as pinch-hitter George Springer drew a walk to load the bases, moving Jansen to third and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to second with one out.

Clement’s fly ball to the outfield dropped just in front of Twins centre-fielder Willi Castro to push Jansen across home for the Blue Jays’ first lead of the game.

Schneider then added a run with a sacrifice fly that gave Kiner-Falefa enough time to run home.

ON DECK — Alek Manoah (0-0) makes his second start of the season on Sunday afternoon as the Blue Jays conclude their series with the Twins.

Bailey Ober (3-1) will take the mound for Minnesota.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2024.

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