Toronto at Minnesota

W: S. Richmond (1-0) L: S. Baker (0-1)
HR: TOR - S. Rolen (2), A. Hill (3), V. Wells (2), M. Barrett (1)   MIN - None

Blue Jays 12, Twins 2 wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- For all Scott Richmond endured to reach the majors, a two-run deficit in the first inning was hardly a challenge. Especially with the way the Toronto Blue Jays are swinging their bats.

Determination has defined this right-hander's long and unusual career.

"I always loved baseball," Richmond said Wednesday after Toronto's 12-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins. "When you're from Canada, you've got to really, really love it, or be really, really good."

Aaron Hill went 4-for-5 with one of Toronto's four home runs in four innings against Minnesota starter Scott Baker, and the Blue Jays kept up their torrid pace at the plate with 16 hits -- six for extra bases.

"They're unbelievable right now," said Richmond (1-0), who got one out in the seventh before being removed. "They know this is a year that we have a young staff, and we're going to need some run support along the way to keep us in games and stuff until we get our feet under ourselves."

Hill and Scott Rolen hit two-run shots against Baker, who came off the disabled list to make a forgettable first start of the season. Vernon Wells and Michael Barrett also went deep, sending Baker to an early exit.

"There's probably a mechanical adjustment that needs to be made," said Baker, who struggled throughout the exhibition season and gave up five hits and six runs while striking out three. "A little excited, and just basically wasn't finishing my pitches. It's not something I haven't dealt with before. A lot of times I just tend to want to watch and see where the pitch is going, instead of just letting it fly."

Richmond yielded only four hits, two runs (only one earned, due to a wild pitch) and three walks in a night on the job that was far more fun than when he labored for a tugboat company in British Columbia until he was 21.

He pitched in college for perennial power Oklahoma State, but post-9/11 visa problems made it more difficult for him to get drafted. The Edmonton Cracker Cats, in the independent Golden Baseball League, was his only call. Finally, through connections made on Canada's national team, Richmond drew interest from the Blue Jays and pitched his way to a September callup last year.

He'll turn 30 in August, but he's part of an inexperienced rotation behind ace Roy Halladay. Richmond didn't have an impressive spring, but the Blue Jays were sure pleased by this.

"He didn't give up. He just keeps battling out there," manager Cito Gaston said.

Just like his career.

"I never had an easy road. I always had to be a jerk and just try to work my way in and try and fight hard to get it and not take no for an answer," he said. "I don't accept getting hit around. I don't accept giving up runs."

Baker, whose opening day assignment was taken away by a sore shoulder, looked as if he was still in spring training. Manager Ron Gardenhire put no pitch-count limits on his purported No. 1 starter, whose injury cost him one turn in the rotation, and Baker threw almost 75 percent of his pitches for strikes.

Major problem: He walked two batters, both immediately preceding home runs.

Rolen went deep on an 0-2 pitch in the second inning after the Twins took 2-0 lead in the first, and Hill took an 0-1 offering into the left-field seats in the third for a 4-2 advantage.

Phil Humber was just as hittable in relief, surrendering six hits, three runs and an intentional walk while getting three outs.

"They're all trying to figure it out," Gardenhire said. "It's not a time to panic. We have a very good young pitching staff. Sometimes this is a good thing when they get beat around. They know they have to really step back and can't just throw your uniform out there and your glove out there. You have to work at it and make better pitches."


Gaston took extra pride in the recognition of Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's skin-color barrier. Gaston, the only black manager to win a World Series, was honored last year by the Negro League Hall of Fame for a career achievement award in Robinson's name. "It goes way back. He changed the whole world," Gaston said. ... Gardenhire hasn't been ready to formally declare RH Jesse Crain his eighth-inning reliever, with RH Luis Ayala also up for the setup role, but Crain has been pitching this spring in pre-surgery form. A torn labrum and rotator cuff ended his 2007 season prematurely and 2008 was so-so, but Crain has allowed one hit in four innings to date. ... Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek was back at his job after taking 10 days off for health reasons.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

A. Hill
AB 5
R 1
H 4
HR 1

V. Wells
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1

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February 24, 2017
2017 AL East Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (3:22)
Toronto Blue Jays
Marco Scutaro, SS3112100 .297
    John McDonald, SS2010001 .333
Aaron Hill, 2B5143000 .356
Alex Rios, RF5000016 .250
Vernon Wells, CF5221003 .326
Adam Lind, DH3210211 .372
Scott Rolen, 3B4112012 .389
    Jose Bautista, 3B1110000 .313
Lyle Overbay, 1B5121003 .259
Michael Barrett, C5221023 .188
Travis Snider, LF3112220 .318
2B - Jose Bautista (1, Ayala), Travis Snider (3, Ayala)
HR - Aaron Hill (3, Baker), Vernon Wells (2, Baker), Scott Rolen (2, Baker), Michael Barrett (1, Baker)
RBI - Marco Scutaro 2 (7), Aaron Hill 3 (11), Vernon Wells (5), Scott Rolen 2 (5), Lyle Overbay (6), Michael Barrett (2), Travis Snider 2 (7)
2-OUT RBI - Marco Scutaro 2 (4), Aaron Hill (6), Vernon Wells (2), Lyle Overbay (3), Michael Barrett (2), Travis Snider 2 (3)
Team LOB - 7
PB - Michael Barrett (1)
Toronto Blue Jays
Scott Richmond (W,1-0) 6.1421330 3.48
Shawn Camp 0.2000000 0.00
Bill Murphy 1000000 0.00
Brandon League 1000010 6.75
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Richmond 106-65, Shawn Camp 9-4, Bill Murphy 10-7, Brandon League 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Richmond 10-6, Shawn Camp 2-0, Bill Murphy 3-0, Brandon League 2-0
Batters Faced - Scott Richmond 26, Shawn Camp 2, Bill Murphy 3, Brandon League 3
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, LF4010013 .316
Alexi Casilla, 2B3110101 .237
Justin Morneau, 1B3110001 .325
    Brian Buscher, 1B1000000 .250
Jason Kubel, DH4001002 .259
Michael Cuddyer, RF4000000 .211
Joe Crede, 3B2000110 .182
    Brendan Harris, 3B1000000 .400
Mike Redmond, C3010010 .222
    Jose Morales, C1000010 .214
Nick Punto, SS2000102 .269
Carlos Gomez, CF3000002 .103
2B - Justin Morneau (4, Richmond)
RBI - Jason Kubel (5)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Punto-Casilla-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker (L,0-1) 4566234 13.50
Philip Humber 1.2533110 12.46
R.A. Dickey 2.1411130 4.15
Luis Ayala 1222100 9.00
IBB - Snider by Philip Humber
WP - R.A. Dickey (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 61-44, Philip Humber 40-21, R.A. Dickey 46-31, Luis Ayala 22-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 3-5, Philip Humber 1-2, R.A. Dickey 2-2
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 18, Philip Humber 10, R.A. Dickey 12, Luis Ayala 6
Game Information
Attendance - 19471
Game Time - 2:49
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Jeff Kellogg, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Rob Drake