A pair of American League teams open up a weekend series on the diamond up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Toronto Blue Jays are on the road as they play the middle game of a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins Saturday afternoon. Toronto dropped three of four on the road to Tampa Bay in their early week series as they fell 6-3 in the finale Thursday afternoon. Minnesota avoided a sweep at the hands of the Giants at home Wednesday afternoon as they prevailed 7-1 in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. This article was published prior to the conclusion of the opening game of the series Friday night.
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Toronto Blue Jays Looking to Stop FreefallToronto entered Friday losers of seven of their previous eight games as they were beaten by Tampa Bay Thursday. The Blue Jays went into Friday’s action 26-25 on the year and stood last in the AL East, 10.5 games behind the Rays for the top spot in the division. On Thursday afternoon, Toronto finished with eight hits with Alejandro Kirk (run) recording three of them. No other player for the Blue Jays had more than one in the contest as the team went one of five with runners in scoring position. Alek Manoah (1-5) saw his struggles continue as he allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits with five walks and six strikeouts over three innings of work.
Chris Bassitt is on the mound as he makes his 11th start of the season for the Blue Jays in this contest. He is 5-3 with a 3.03 ERA, a 1.043 WHIP, 24 walks and 52 strikeouts over 62.1 innings of work on the year. Bassitt took the loss in his last start, which came against the Rays on the road Monday night. He threw 6.1 innings, allowing six runs (two earned) on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts in a 6-4 Blue Jays defeat. In his last three starts, Bassitt is 1-1 with a 0.81 ERA, a 0.72 WHIP, four walks and 19 strikeouts over 22.1 innings of work. Bassitt makes his seventh career appearance and fourth start against the Twins in this contest. He comes in 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.385 WHIP, 11 walks and 18 strikeouts over 21.2 innings of work. Bassitt is 1-0 with a 4.08 ERA, a 1.585 WHIP, 10 walks and 13 strikeouts over 17.2 innings in five career appearances, three starts, at Target Field.
Minnesota Twins Trying to Extend AL Central AdvantageMinnesota had dropped three straight and five of their previous six before beating San Francisco in the series finale Wednesday afternoon and enjoyed an off day Thursday. The Twins entered Friday 26-24 on the season and held a two-game lead on the Tigers in the AL Central. Against the Giants Wednesday, Minnesota got two hits from Willi Castro (two runs) while Randal Jeffers (his second) and Edouard Julien (his third) each went deep in the victory. Joe Ryan (7-1) earned the win on the mound as he threw five innings, allowing one run on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts before departing. Four Twins relievers threw four scoreless innings of work to close it out.
Pablo Lopez is slated to take the mound for the Twins in this contest as he makes his 11th start of the season. He comes in 2-3 with a 3.90 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, 17 walks and 75 strikeouts over 60 innings of work on the year. Lopez took the loss in his last start, which came Sunday on the road against the Angels. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in a game the Twins lost 4-2. In his last three starts, Lopez is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, seven walks and 21 strikeouts over 17 innings of work. Lopez didn’t factor in the decision in his lone career start against the Blue Jays, which came with the Marlins on June 2, 2021. He threw four innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts in a game the Marlins dropped 6-5. Lopez is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA, a 1.208 WHIP, eight walks and 31 strikeouts over 24 innings in four career starts at Target Field.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Toronto has been sinking and the team reportedly had a meeting after the loss Thursday. Whether that clears the air for the team and helps turn things around remains to be seen. Bassitt surrendered four unearned runs against the Rays Monday night thanks to shoddy defense, helping snap his string of three straight scoreless outings. It’s tough to have faith in the Blue Jays given their recent slump, especially when you’re facing a guy in Lopez that you’re unfamiliar with overall. Minnesota has had their own struggles but they are at home and facing a team that is clearly reeling at this stage of things. Take the Twins to earn the home victory in this contest.
Full-Game Total Pick
Toronto has seen the over post a 26-23-1 mark this season entering Friday’s opener. The Blue Jays are 10th in the majors with an average of 4.78 runs per game this year, though that number climbs to 5.17 runs per game as the visiting team. Toronto has an average total of 9.23 runs per game on the season but on the road, that mark surges up to 10.24 runs per game. Minnesota entered Thursday having seen the under post a 26-21-3 mark this season. The Twins are tied for 12th in runs per game with 4.60 runs per contest this season, though that number edges up to an even five runs per game as the home team on the year. Minnesota sees an average total of 8.30 runs per game this season, though that number edges up to 8.80 runs per game at Target Field. Bassitt was pitching well before facing Tampa in his last start while Lopez has been fairly solid this year. This game winds up falling short of the total.