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Guerrero Jr., Hernandez power Blue Jays over Twins in series opener

Written by on August 5, 2022

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a three-run homer, Teoscar Hernandez homered for the second straight day and the Toronto Blue Jays cruised to a 9-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

Whit Merrifield, who revealed earlier in the day that he’s now vaccinated against COVID-19 and cleared to play in Canada, had two hits in his Blue Jays debut after being acquired from Kansas City for two minor leaguers at the trade deadline.

“I think if you can line it up, they all kind of have that damage potential,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said of his lineup with the addition of Merrifield. “But if you can get guys on base and put the ball in play like we’ve been preaching all year – I know we had six walks, five in the first five innings and got nothing of it – but when you put that combination of on-base and damage together, it’s pretty good.”

Toronto won for the 12th time in 15 games and got six effective innings from Alek Manoah.

Manoah (12-5) allowed two runs on two hits but tied a season high with four walks.

The first-time All-Star was hit by a comebacker for the second start in a row. He left his previous start with an elbow contusion after being hit. Thursday, he was hit in the right triceps area in the fourth inning for Minnesota’s first hit but remained in the game.

“It’s fine,” Manoah said. “We’ll see tomorrow but got me a little higher this time on the triceps.”

Twins starter Sonny Gray also had a no-hitter working into the middle innings before Cavan Biggio had a two-out single in the fifth. Gray was done after five innings, giving up just one hit, but he walked a season-high five batters.

Emilio Pagan (3-5) relieved Gray and allowed three runs — two earned — on four hits in an inning.

“We added some good arms to our ‘pen and I think we’re going to see some really good production from our bullpen in these last two months of the season,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said, regarding the trade additions of Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. “I think our bullpen is going to end up being a strength of this team down the stretch. We didn’t see it all come together today, but I actually do think that is going to be the case.”

Hernandez sent Pagan’s offering to the back of the second deck in left field to start a three-run sixth. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Merrifield added RBI singles. Guerrero’s 22nd homer capped a six-run eighth.

Jose Miranda had two RBIs for Minnesota on a hit-by-pitch and groundout. Jake Cave hit his first home run in his third game this season.