|Toronto (8-3) «||1||0||0||0||1||0||7||0||0||9||14||0|
MINNEAPOLIS -- After seven dominant innings, Roy Halladay humbly offered this: He just wanted to hold the lead.
Light-hitting leadoff man Marco Scutaro hustled home for a first-inning run off Francisco Liriano (0-3) and broke the game open with a two-run shot in a seven-run seventh highlighted by Kevin Millar's fourth career grand slam. Halladay improved to 8-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his career against the Twins, who failed to hit a fly ball while he was in the game.
"That's good. You want to keep the ball on the ground," Halladay said.
Toronto won three of four in the series and has taken 12 of the past 13 from Minnesota. Halladay (3-0) allowed eight hits and struck out eight without a walk. The 6-foot-6 right-hander allowed one run, in the second inning on a fielder's choice grounder.
Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer was in awe.
"He could go out there one day and just throw all cutters and beat you, and then he could go out there one day and just throw all sinkers and beat you, and then he could go out there and throw all curveballs one day and beat you," Cuddyer said. "Today he had all three of 'em. ... It's hard to find a better pitcher over the last seven or eight years than him."
With a rookie-laden rotation behind Halladay, the Blue Jays were happy to have a 7-3 record after the first two turns. Offense has fueled this fast start.
"Everyone is clicking," Millar said. "It's like a snowball effect."
Scutaro started the game with a double. Cuddyer leaped at the wall to take a hit from Aaron Hill, but the relay throw skipped past Alexi Casilla for an error on the second baseman and Scutaro cruised home for an unearned run.
Liriano has pitched well enough to have at least one victory, if not two, but he's still missing that edge he had as a rookie in 2006 -- and that Halladay has had for most of his stellar 10-year career. After a 1-2-3 fourth, Liriano was an out away from finishing the fifth tied at 1 when Hill's single drove in Jose Bautista.
That was the only opening Halladay needed.
His sixth inning was an ace's work of art. After a single and a hit-by-pitch put runners on with no outs, Halladay struck out the side. Casilla was way out in front of a curveball. Justin Morneau fanned on a 91 mph four-seam fastball, right after he went for the curve. Then Jason Kubel whiffed three consecutive times at a cutter that dived and darted toward his shins.
"He's not firing on all cylinders yet, but that's still better than most guys," catcher Rod Barajas said, adding: "When he's in that situation, it's not panic time. He has such an arsenal there's no more pressure on us."
Liriano threw 104 pitches, so six innings was it for him after seven hits, two runs and one walk. He struck out five, but the struggling Twins needed more. Their starters are 2-6 with an ERA at 5.40, a problem compounded by the mere 14 runs produced in the past six games.
"Against a pitcher like that, you've got to do the best you can," said Liriano, mostly lamenting the location of the fastball he threw to Hill in the fifth.
The Blue Jays had no mercy for Minnesota's bullpen, sending 12 batters to the plate in the seventh and bringing manager Ron Gardenhire to the mound to take the ball from three different beleaguered relievers. They walked three and threw two wild pitches in that inning.
But with Bob Marley's reggae music blaring in the background afterward, the Twins kept a positive attitude in the clubhouse.
"People jump off the bandwagon all the time and I'm sure we knocked a few people off the wagons tonight, but you can jump back on with us because we're going to keep playing," Gardenhire said, his voice rising as he encouraged reporters to leave his office.
He said he didn't have any answers in anticipation of their questions, much like the Twins at the plate against Halladay.
|Roy Halladay continues to dominate the Twins, improving to 8-0 with a 2.77 ERA vs. Minnesota. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Marco Scutaro, SS-2B||5||2||2||2||0||2||4||.310|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||5||1||3||1||0||0||0||.380|
|John McDonald, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Alex Rios, RF-CF||5||0||0||0||0||2||3||.222|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.340|
|a- Travis Snider, PH-RF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.348|
|Adam Lind, DH||3||1||1||0||2||1||1||.370|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||3||1||0||0||2||0||3||.359|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||5||1||1||4||0||0||3||.294|
|Rod Barajas, C||5||1||2||0||0||0||1||.276|
|Jose Bautista, LF||4||1||2||0||1||1||1||.350|
|a-doubled for V. Wells in the 8th|
|2B - Marco Scutaro (2, Liriano), Travis Snider (4, Ayala), Rod Barajas (3, Dickey), Jose Bautista (2, Liriano)|
|HR - Marco Scutaro (3, Guerrier), Kevin Millar (1, Dickey)|
|RBI - Marco Scutaro 2 (9), Aaron Hill (12), Kevin Millar 4 (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Aaron Hill (7), Kevin Millar 4 (4)|
|CS - Aaron Hill (1, 2nd base by Liriano/Morales)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Hill-Scutaro-Millar|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Roy Halladay (W,3-0)||7||8||1||1||0||8||0||3.00|
|HBP - Span (by Roy Halladay)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Roy Halladay 101-74, Bill Murphy 13-7, Jason Frasor 11-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Halladay 10-2, Bill Murphy 1-1, Jason Frasor 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Roy Halladay 29, Bill Murphy 4, Jason Frasor 3|
|Denard Span, CF||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.293|
|Alexi Casilla, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.214|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||2||0||0||2||2||.341|
|Jason Kubel, DH||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.226|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF||4||2||2||1||0||1||0||.238|
|Brian Buscher, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.375|
|Delmon Young, LF||4||0||0||1||0||1||1||.148|
|Jose Morales, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.222|
|Brendan Harris, SS||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||.429|
|HR - Michael Cuddyer (1, Murphy)|
|RBI - Michael Cuddyer (5), Delmon Young (4)|
|2-OUT RBI - Michael Cuddyer (3)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Alexi Casilla (1, Missed catch of throw)|
|Francisco Liriano (L,0-3)||6||7||2||1||1||5||0||5.09|
|WP - Craig Breslow 2 (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 104-65, Matt Guerrier 21-15, Craig Breslow 11-3, R.A. Dickey 14-7, Luis Ayala 24-14, Jesse Crain 11-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 2-10, Luis Ayala 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 25, Matt Guerrier 6, Craig Breslow 2, R.A. Dickey 3, Luis Ayala 6, Jesse Crain 3|
|Attendance - 15169|
|Game Time - 2:57|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Tim Timmons, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Jeff Kellogg|