MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Esmil Rogers knows the important of pitching well in September despite his team being long out of the playoff picture.
On Sunday, the 28-year-old righty continued making his case to stay in Toronto’s starting rotation with his second-straight scoreless outing, helping the Blue Jays beat Minnesota 2-0 to complete a three-game sweep.
Rogers (5-7) allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four over a career-high 7 2-3 innings, and Jose Reyes’ late double broke a scoreless tie. Rogers, who started the season in the bullpen, hasn’t allowed a run since allowing two in a relief outing Aug. 27.
“That’s the key, finish strong and try to be normal,” Rogers said.
“You go home and you obviously think about September,” Rogers said. “They think, ‘how did everybody do in September?’ When you finish the season there’s already a lot of people who forget a little bit about it . but September is more closer to the finish of the season.”
Rogers won back-to-back starts for the first time since June 13 and 18. He outdueled Twins rookie Andrew Albers, who took a no-decision despite a brilliant outing. Albers made his own case for Minnesota’s rotation for next year, scattering four hits over seven innings with no walks and a season-high five strikeouts.
“The kid has thrown really well and he did again today,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’ll be in the mix and that’s what you want is to be in the mix when you get to spring training.”
Albers frustrated Toronto’s lineup for much of the afternoon, but the Blue Jays quickly got to Twins reliever Jared Burton (2-9), who came out to start the eighth.
Ryan Goins led off with a single and came around to score on Reyes’ double two batters later. Reyes then stole third and scored when Brian Dozier couldn’t grab Rajai Davis’ pop-fly in shallow left to make it 2-0.
Goins also made a big play on defense when he threw out Pedro Florimon at the plate in the sixth.
Florimon led off the inning with a double. Alex Presley followed with a single, but Twins third-base coach Joe Vavra lost sight of the ball and held up the speedy Florimon at third. On the next at-bad, Chris Herrmann hit a grounder to Goins, who fired the ball back to catcher J.P. Arencibia rather than go for the double play.
“You’ve got to tip your hat, that’s the play of the game right there,” Arencibia said.
The Twins knew it, too.
“He’s pretty upset,” Gardenhire said of Vavra. “He was bummed about it in the dugout.”
Presley eventually advanced to third on Brian Dozier’s long fly, but Oswaldo Arcia grounded out to short and end the threat, drawing loud boos from the home crowd. The boos were almost as loud as the cheers from the healthy contingent of visiting Blue Jays fans, who gave Rogers a standing ovation when he left in the seventh and was replaced by Brett Cecil. Cecil and Sergio Santos combined to close out the eighth and Casey Jannsen pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 31 chances.
Toronto has won 10 of its last 13 games since a season-high seven-game losing streak from Aug. 18-24. The Blue Jays are 11-3 all-time at Target Field, where the Twins have lost 10 straight.
“That’s terrible, to be honest with you,” Dozier said. “We’re not playing very good. Offense, defense, anything.”
Notes: The Twins announced several call ups after the game — INF Eduardo Escobar, OF Chris Parmelee, LHP Scott Diamond, RHP Michael Tonkin and RHP Cole De Vries. They also selected the contracts of C Eric Fryer and RHP Shairon Martis. The Twins made room for the moves by transferring RHP Samuel Deduno (shoulder) and OF Wilkin Ramirez (fractured shin) to the 60-day DL. . Blue Jays INF Edwin Encarnacion sat out with a sore left wrist. . Minnesota’s bullpen entered the game having allowed 11 runs in 14 1-3 innings against the Blue Jays, including six runs in three innings in Saturday night’s loss. “It’s really hard for me to say anything bad about those guys in the bullpen, they’ve been our saviors,” Gardenhire said. . Asked if he regularly checks in on injured All-Star catcher Joe Mauer (concussion), Gardenhire quipped: “I said Hi,′ at breakfast. Do I need to say more than that? I’m not going to follow him around, you guys do that.” Gardenhire said Mauer hit in the batting cages Sunday and followed a regular cardio routine. There is still no timetable for his return. . The Blue Jays have Monday off before beginning a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at home on Tuesday. RHP Jerome Williams (6-10) is scheduled to start that game against the Angels’ Mark Buehrle (11-7). The Twins will host the Angels on Monday in a makeup game from April 17; Pedro Hernandez (3-1) will start for Minnesota against Jered Weaver (9-8).