Daily Reporter staff reports
TORONTO — The night went from bad to worse in a hurry for right-hander Kyle Gibson and the Minnesota Twins against the surging Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 250th homer and Mark Buehrle earned his 30th career win against Minnesota as the Blue Jays beat the struggling Twins 9-3 to complete a four-game sweep.
Gibson (8-9), winless in four starts, matched his career worst by allowing eight runs, including four earned runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Greenfield-Central graduate gave up nine hits in 4⅔ innings before being chased.
The loss was Gibson’s third in four appearances. He hasn’t recorded a win since July 12 against Detroit.
Gibson had been Minnesota’s most consistent starter this year, and his season-high in runs allowed was six entering Thursday. The loss caused his ERA to rise from 3.37 to 3.78.
Before the All-Star break, Gibson held a 2.85 ERA and an 8-6 record. In the second half of the season, his ERA has spiked to 6.75 with opposing batters hitting .310 against him.
“He’s stepped up a lot of times for us,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Today it just didn’t work out for him.’
Encarnacion went 3 for 4 with four RBIs and scored twice. The red-hot Blue Jays won their fifth straight and swept a four-game series from the Twins for the first time.
“We are very confident, no doubt about that,” manager John Gibbons said.
Encarnacion hit an RBI double in the first, homered in the third, walked and scored in the fifth and doubled home a run in the sixth. He is 14 for 32 (.438) during a nine-game hitting streak.
Toronto has hit at least one home run in 18 of 19 games since the All-Star break.
“The way they hit the ball is just unbelievable,” Minnesota outfielder Torii Hunter said. “When they hit the ball, it sounds like car crashes.”
Toronto, which beat Minnesota 9-7 on Wednesday, scored nine runs in back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Blue Jays lead the majors with 587 runs.
Buehrle (12-5) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings to win his third consecutive decision. He is 30-19 with a 3.68 ERA in 54 appearances against Minnesota.
Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homer and Aaron Hicks had a solo shot for the Twins, who matched a season worst by losing their fifth straight. Minnesota is 5-14 since the All-Star break.
“We got demolished these four games,” Hunter said. “We got crushed.”
Now 54-54, the Twins are at .500 for the first time since May 2, when they were 12-12.
Already leading on Encarnacion’s first double, Toronto made it 2-0 with three straight singles off Gibson in the third, including Josh Donaldson’s RBI hit. After Jose Bautista grounded into a double play, Encarnacion hit a first-pitch homer, his 21st.
After Bautista made it 5-2 with an RBI double in the fifth, Minnesota intentionally walked Encarnacion to load the bases with one out. The strategy didn’t pay off, however, as Dioner Navarro hit a two-run single and Justin Smoak drove in another run to make it 8-2.
It was the major league-leading 39th time the Blue Jays had scored four or more times in an inning. They reached six runs or more for the 50th time, the highest total of any big league team.
Gibson will look to rebound against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Target Field. He is 1-0 against Texas through two starts and holds a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings pitched. Gibson is 5-4 at home this season.
The Minnesota Twins’ Kyle Gibson labored through 4 2/3 innings innings Thursday, surrendering eight runs against the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays, who are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Greenfield-Central graduate’s pitching line against the Blue Jays as well as for the season: