Just fine, they found out, and Mays kept going all the way through the satisfying end.
Mays scattered seven hits in his first complete game in nearly three years, pitching Minnesota past the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 on Thursday.
"A lot of people really doubted me, but there was never really a doubt in my mind that I would be back to this point," said Mays, who struck out two without a walk in 93 pitches. It was his first complete game since a two-hit shutout against Boston on Aug. 16, 2002.
Michael Cuddyer's two-run double with the bases loaded in the sixth, the culmination of a 13-pitch at-bat, broke a scoreless tie and chased Blue Jays starter Gustavo Chacin. Mike Redmond greeted reliever Jason Frasor with a two-run single.
Mays (3-1) has had some success, but this was clearly the big breakout he and the Twins were waiting for following his recovery from elbow surgery that kept him off the mound for 18 months.
Trying to rediscover the form he showed in 2001, when he made the All-Star team and won 17 games with a 3.16 ERA, Mays had his sinker working well. Thirteen of the first 21 outs he got came on the ground.
For pitching coach Rick Anderson and manager Ron Gardenhire, the key was to see how Mays pitched the seventh after sitting through a four-run, eight-batter rally in the bottom of the sixth.
No Blue Jays runner made it past first base until the seventh, when Shea Hillenbrand and Frank Menechino hit back-to-back singles. Anderson came out to talk with Mays, and he was met with a stern greeting.
"He said, 'I'm finishing this game,"' Anderson said. "And I says, 'It's yours. Go do it."'
Vernon Wells then hit a bouncer to shortstop for a double play, ending the threat.
"I wasn't coming out, even if Gardy came out there," Mays said. "We would've had a nice little talk."
Mays gave up two more singles in the eighth and a double in the ninth, but he escaped with the sixth shutout and 10th complete game of his career.
"He kept picking, picking, picking, getting us to swing at his pitch," Toronto's Frank Menechino said. "We hit a lot of balls hard right at people. He stuck to his game, didn't panic when we got men on base."
Menechino replaced Corey Koskie in the lineup after Koskie was thrown out by Torii Hunter trying to tag up on Wells' fly to center in the second. Koskie broke his right thumb on the play and will be out for a while, manager John Gibbons said.
Chacin, a left-hander with an unusual, deceptive delivery, is tough on lefties -- as he showed Justin Morneau by striking him out in his first two at-bats.
Chacin (4-3) loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Morneau whiffed and Hunter struck out on a pitch near his neck as Minnesota's bases-loaded woes continued.
Morneau and Hunter made amends, though, by starting the rally in the sixth. Morneau singled, Hunter walked and Matthew LeCroy singled to load the bases. Then Cuddyer, after fouling off eight two-strike pitches, looped a double into left field to make it 2-0.
"The guy's just hot," Hunter said.
It got lost a little after Mays' accomplishment, but the Cuddyer-Chacin battle was a memorable one.
"You have to tip your hat to him," Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby said. "Gus threw his best pitches out there. ... Gus didn't give up, and neither did Cuddyer."
Then Frasor came in, and Redmond's single drove in two more to put Minnesota up by four.
After an outstanding April, in which he went 4-1, Chacin has started to struggle a little. His ERA rose to 3.71.
"It's part of the game," Chacin said. "The important thing is to keep fighting, keep pitching no matter if you win or lose."
- Lefties are hitting .204 (10-for-49) against Chacin.
- The Twins are batting .184 (9-for-49) with the bases loaded. But they're hitting .331 (112-for-338) with runners in scoring position..
- It was the first time Toronto was shut out this year..
- Cuddyer has a hit in eight straight games. He's batting .444 (12-for-27) during that span.