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Updated: May 15th, 2011 3:57pm
Twins Daily: Bautista, Jays destroy Duensing as losing skid hits eight

Twins Daily: Bautista, Jays destroy Duensing as losing skid hits eight

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no end in sight for the Minnesota Twins' downward spiral. Brian Duensing gave up seven earned runs in three innings on Sunday and Toronto slugger Jose Bautista blasted three homers in the Blue Jays' 11-3 romp, extending the Twins' losing skid to eight games.

The skinny

Bautista provided more than enough offense to sink the Twins (12-26), who hadn't lost eight straight since July 2003 and are off to their worst start since 1995.

The Jays (20-20) already led 3-0 when Bautista launched a 1-1 fastball an estimated 430 feet into the top of the second deck in left field.

"That guy's ridiculous," Duensing said. "I don't get it. He obviously does, hits the ball a long ways, sees the ball well. ... That's one ball I wish I had back."

Toronto added three more runs in the frame to chase Duensing -- who threw only 62 pitches (36 strikes), allowing eight hits and fanning one -- and bring Kevin Slowey out of the bullpen.

In the fourth, Bautista lined an 0-2 pitch from Slowey into the lower deck in left field. Then, with Toronto ahead 9-3 in the sixth inning, Slowey threw a 1-2 fastball to the outside part of the plate that Bautista swatted just over the tall fence in right-center -- his fifth homer of the series and 16th in 32 games this season.

"In this series, every time we made a mistake he put it in the seats, and then he went (opposite field) on us twice in this ballpark, which is not easy to do either," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's killing the ball right now, and we definitely gave him plenty of pitches to do that with."

An exasperated crowd of 39,301 mock-booed Bautista's fielder's choice groundout in the eighth inning, which left him shy of becoming the first big leaguer with a four-homer game since Carlos Delgado on Sept. 25, 2003.

Asked if he's ever seen a hitter as hot as Bautista, Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said, "Never. I never saw Barry Bonds play, so never. I mean, I don't have an answer for that. That's unbelievable. He's turned himself into the best hitter in the game, as far as I'm concerned. It's pretty amazing."

Jays starter Brandon Morrow walked in one run in the fourth and gave up RBI doubles to Trevor Plouffe and Justin Morneau in the fifth before turning over the game to the bullpen, which held the Twins scoreless the rest of the way. Jason Kubel took a called third strike from Octavio Dotel with the bases loaded to end it.

Turning point

Duensing walked the game's first two hitters, then got Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to pop out. That brought up Aaron Hill, who quickly fell behind 0-2.

It appeared Duensing might escape the threat unscathed when Hill hit a line drive toward left field. But the ball drifted away from Delmon Young as he plodded after it, turning what looked like an inning-ending fly into a two-run double that set the stage for the mess.

Young had another misadventure in the second inning, when Yunel Escobar's fly ball sailed over his head for an RBI double. Gardenhire talked to Young on the bench for not hustling after the ball -- he pointed at it as center fielder Denard Span gave chase instead.

"He made an effort to try to go catch the ball, and he didn't get it off the wall, but you can't just stand there and watch it bounce back," Gardenhire said. "He knew it. He knew he screwed up. He expected Span to be over there a little closer, and when he looked up, Span was on the run, too, and he knew he should have ran after the ball. Absolutely."

Things didn't go much better for Young at the plate. He struck out in each of his first three at-bats and finished 0-for-4.

Numbers game

11-27: Twins' record through 38 games in 1995, the last time they were at least 14 games below .500 at this juncture.

5: Home runs hit in the series by Bautista, who has seven in seven career games at Target Field.

6: Home runs hit this season at Target Field by the Twins.

4-11: Twins' record at Target Field this season.

6: Consecutive swinging strikeouts by Young before his eighth-inning groundout.

15: Years since two relievers on the same team allowed a hit and multiple walks without retiring a batter in the same game before Jim Hoey and Jose Mijares did it on Saturday. The last time it happened was May 17, 1996, when Dan Naulty and Erik Bennett -- also with the Twins -- did it against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Health watch

• C Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) continues to take batting practice with teammates in the Twin Cities and there is no timetable for him to continue his rehabilitation in Florida, head athletic trainer Rick McWane said.

• DH Jim Thome (oblique), 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) and OF Jason Repko (quadriceps) all took batting practice and worked out on Sunday. Thome was scheduled to play a simulated game on Monday, and Repko -- who is "pretty close," McWane said -- will play in an extended spring-training game.

• Mijares (tender left elbow) was placed on the disabled list as the Twins shuffled their bullpen after Sunday's game.

• "General soreness," not an injury, made Slowey unavailable for Saturday's 11-inning game, McWane said. Slowey threw 74 pitches (57 strikes) in six innings on Sunday, allowing four runs on five hits and striking out three without a walk. Slowey declined to comment to reporters after the game.

Overheard

"I wish I was like that. It's impressive. He's got it figured out now. It's pretty fun to watch. Unfortunately, it's against us, but what can you do?"
-- Kubel, on Bautista

"He never really got a chance to breathe. They were pounding him early, and he never really was able to get in the flow of the game."
-- Gardenhire, on Duensing

On deck

The only other American League teams with fewer than 18 wins are the Chicago White Sox and the Seattle Mariners, who host a two-game series against the Twins beginning on Monday at Safeco Field. It's the teams' first meeting this season. The Twins won six out of 10 against Seattle in 2010.

Sunday's rainout at Cleveland bumped back Mariners right-hander Michael Pineda (4-2, 2.84 earned-run average), the 22-year-old Dominican who has 13 walks and 45 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings over seven big-league starts. An amateur free-agent signing by Seattle in 2005, when he was 16, Pineda has a 98 mph fastball and throws more first-pitch strikes than anyone in baseball.

"I've kind of been wanting to see this new guy (on Monday)," Kubel said. "He looks pretty good, and ... hopefully we can beat him around a little bit."

Pineda is scheduled to oppose right-hander Scott Baker (2-2, 3.71), who flip-flopped with lefty Francisco Liriano in the rotation. Baker is coming off his worst start this season -- allowing five earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings of Wednesday's 9-7 loss to Detroit. In nine career starts against Seattle, Baker is 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA, 17 walks and 31 strikeouts in 55 innings.

Coming up

• Tuesday: at Seattle, 9:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (2-2, 3.71) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36).
• Wednesday: at Oakland, 9:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.89) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-4, 3.34).
• Thursday: at Oakland, 2:35 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (2-4, 3.70) vs. TBD.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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