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Blue Jays' bullpen day falls apart in loss

MLB.com

TORONTO -- Joe Biagini's transition back to the bullpen had looked promising, but a three-run fifth inning in the Blue Jays' 8-3 loss to the Twins on Monday night was a step in the wrong direction.

Biagini had allowed only four earned runs in his past 18 innings entering Sunday. His solo homer to Jonathan Schoop on Sunday looked like a blip, but now, it looks like the 28-year-old reliever is having a tough time keeping the ball in the yard.

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TORONTO -- Joe Biagini's transition back to the bullpen had looked promising, but a three-run fifth inning in the Blue Jays' 8-3 loss to the Twins on Monday night was a step in the wrong direction.

Biagini had allowed only four earned runs in his past 18 innings entering Sunday. His solo homer to Jonathan Schoop on Sunday looked like a blip, but now, it looks like the 28-year-old reliever is having a tough time keeping the ball in the yard.

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Logan Morrison led off the fifth inning against Biagini by taking a changeup 418 feet over the center-field wall.

"I've been working on my changeup," Biagini said. "It was the first time I threw this iteration of it in a game, so sometimes you just have to go out there and be aggressive and confident with it and trust it."

Video: MIN@TOR: Santos strikes out Grossman to end the frame

Biagini uses his fastball 75.2 percent of the time, according to Statcast™, but he says he's been trying to work the new changeup into his repertoire.

"I haven't felt like my changeup has been very good in the last couple of years, and so it's just toying around with things and using different people's input," Biagini said. "I actually feel like this one might have a lot of potential, I just have to get into a rhythm with it."

Jorge Polanco followed Morrison's homer with a single before Max Kepler took Biagini deep again over the right-center-field wall. It was Biagnini's second two-homer relief appearance of the season, the first coming on June 6 against the Yankees. Mitch Garver added a double before Biagini retired the next three batters.

Video: MIN@TOR: Kepler strokes a 2-run homer to right

With a pair of starters on the disabled list, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons opted for a bullpen day against the Twins, and it wasn't pretty. Luis Santos started for Toronto and went two innings, allowing a run on three hits. Then came the revolving door of bullpen arms who didn't fare much better. Tim Mayza pitched 1 1/3 innings, surrendering four runs before Biagini came in.

"At the big league level, you never want to have to do that, but sometimes you have to," Gibbons said regarding his planned bullpen day. "Hopefully we don't have to do too many of those."

Video: MIN@TOR: Solarte plates Smoak with a sacrifice fly

The Blue Jays' lone offensive highlight came courtesy of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who hit a solo homer off Twins starter Adalberto Mejia in the third inning. Gurriel has been hot, hitting .391, since being promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on July 2.

"I learned a lot of things the first time I came up that I knew I had to do a lot of things when they sent me back to the Minors," Gurriel said through a translator. "Not just one thing but a lot of things defensively and offensively that I needed to work on, and I think I did the right things and now it's just going well for me."

Gurriel added a single in the seventh inning to mark his sixth consecutive multi-hit game. The streak makes him one of four American League rookie middle infielders since World War II to produce a six-game multi-hit streak, joining Ted Kubiak in 1968, Brent Gates in '93 and Howie Kendrick in '06, according to STATS.

"He's always been a guy that puts the good part of the barrel to the ball consistently," Gibbons said before the game. "He can hit breaking balls, he can foul off good breaking balls, stay alive. … I think he's got a chance to be a really good player."

Mejia pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing just the single run in his second start of the season. Aside from a bases-loaded jam in sixth, Minnesota's bullpen came in and shut down the Blue Jays' offense until the ninth when Fernando Rodney gave up a pair of runs.

Video: MIN@TOR: Morales serves an RBI single to left

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Work to do in left field
Teoscar Hernandez's defense in left field continues to be a work in progress this season. He misplayed a ball off the wall and had it skirt away from him, allowing Joe Mauer to stretch a routine single into a double to lead off the game. Two batters later, he made an ill-advised attempt to catch a line drive from Eduardo Escobar that bounced off the turf and again skidded away from him, allowing an RBI triple. Coming into Monday's game, Hernandez ranked 173rd in the Majors in defensive Outs Above Average, according to Statcast™.

Video: MIN@TOR: Escobar opens the scoring with an RBI triple

Sixth-inning rally provides nothing
Toronto rallied in the sixth to load the bases with no outs, but Dwight Smith Jr. struck out on a slider from Mejia that ended his night. The Twins turned to right-hander Matt Belisle, who struck out Luke Maile and got Randal Grichuk to flyout to right.

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays matched a season high with 13 runners left on base and lost their second game this season when recording 11 hits.

UP NEXT
Ryan Borucki (0-1, 3.52 ERA) will continue his hunt for his first Major League win against the Twins on Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. He is coming off his first lackluster start of the season, a three-inning outing against the Red Sox in which he surrendered seven runs, four earned. Minnesota counters with Jose Berrios (9-7, 3.68), who will also look to bounce back after a rough outing against the Rays in which he allowed six runs over six innings.

Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Biagini, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.