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With 5-run 8th, Twins rally past Blue Jays

May 21, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins snapped their five-game losing streak with a five-run rally in the eighth inning, keyed by a go-ahead three-run homer from Eduardo Nunez in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.Minnesota entered the eighth with one hit against Toronto lefty J.A.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins snapped their five-game losing streak with a five-run rally in the eighth inning, keyed by a go-ahead three-run homer from Eduardo Nunez in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
Minnesota entered the eighth with one hit against Toronto lefty J.A. Happ, but Robbie Grossman started the rally with a leadoff single. Darin Mastroianni followed with a walk to set up a two-run double from Danny Santana with one out to tie it at 2 and chase Happ.
The Blue Jays brought in reliever Gavin Floyd, who plunked Brian Dozier on his first pitch before serving up the go-ahead three-run blast to Nunez. Nunez's homer left the bat at 107 mph and went 424 feet, per Statcast™.

Happ bounces back with impressive outing
"[Floyd] left a fastball right at the inner half of the plate," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "That's usually never good."
Lefty Pat Dean made his first Major League start for the Twins, but didn't factor into the decision. He went six innings, giving up two runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
The two runs came on a two-run blast from Jose Bautista in the third. Closer Kevin Jepsen gave up a solo homer to Michael Saunders in the ninth, but picked up his first save since April 16. It was also Minnesota's first home win since April 26.

"It was huge," Nunez said. "We're struggling. We know that. It's not a secret. But we're pushing. We have a lot of guys struggling in the lineup at the same time and it's tough. But hopefully it all starts today."
Dean dazzles: Dean was solid in his first big league start, but was hurt by the two-run homer from Bautista in the third on a hanging slider. Outside of that, Dean showed off why he's had so much success at Triple-A Rochester, as the lefty was called up after posting a combined 2.72 ERA there over the past three seasons. Dean had previously made two relief appearances with the Twins, giving up four runs in eight innings.

"The big thing was just staying aggressive," Dean said. "I knew these guys would be out there swinging and swinging hard. They've been doing that all series so I wanted to make sure I was aggressive as well."
Bautista goes long: Another game at Target Field, another home run for Bautista, who provided Happ with an early boost of offense with a two-run shot in the third inning. Bautista has nine homers and has gone deep in back-to-back days. Bautista has 13 home runs in 20 career games at Target Field since it opened in 2010.
Nunez atones: Nunez picked up Minnesota's first hit with a leadoff double to left in the fourth. But Nunez quickly made an out on the basepaths, as Miguel Sano flied out to center fielder Kevin Pillar, who was able to throw out Nunez at third as he tried to tag up. Nunez, though, more than made up for it with his go-ahead blast.

"I was looking for a sinker because I knew the situation," Nunez said of his homer. "[Catcher Russell] Martin played with me on the Yankees and he knows I don't like pitches in and was looking for a double play. After the second pitch, he saw me check-swing and thought maybe I wasn't ready, but that was because I was looking for a slider. So maybe he thought I wasn't ready for that pitch, but I was prepared for it." More >
Donaldson tossed: Just minutes into the game, Josh Donaldson was ejected by home-plate umpire Toby Basner. With one out in the first, Donaldson hit a ground ball to short on a 2-1 count. He ran slowly to first and was easily thrown out by Nunez. On his way back to the dugout, Donaldson and Basner engaged in a short conversation and the slugger was ejected. It was the second time this season Donaldson has been ejected and the ninth time a Blue Jay has been tossed in 2016.

"As I was jogging back, something was said to me from the Twins' side of the dugout about how I was running to first base," Donaldson said. "I decided to respond and the next thing I knew, I was getting ejected." More >
"It's hard to say they were better than us, but that's the fact of the matter. Ball through the five-hole, a walk and a slap hit and that's the game. It's tough to take." -- Happ, who took the loss despite allowing three runs on just three hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings

"I think it could definitely give us a spark. Things have been tough for us but hopefully this win can get us rolling a little bit." --Dean, on the win
Donaldson's ejection was the 53rd in the Majors this season. Toronto's nine account for almost 17 percent of the league-wide total.
Blue Jays: Toronto will send right-hander Marcus Stroman to the mound in the finale of a four-game series Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET. Stroman will be looking to rebound from his worst start of the season against the Rays on Tuesday, when he allowed seven runs on 13 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings in a 12-2 loss.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes starts for the Twins on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Hughes (1-6, 5.70 ERA) has been dealing with right shoulder fatigue, but threw a bullpen session Thursday and was cleared to make his next start.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.

Dan Myers is a contributor to and covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.