The Blue Jays were confident they could end their six-game home stand with a win on Wednesday afternoon.
But one rough inning four hours after the first pitch spelled a meltdown for Toronto ahead of its longest road trip of the season.
Brian Dozier scored the go-ahead run on a hit by pitch to spark a six-run 11th inning, and the Minnesota Twins recovered from blowing a late lead to rout the Toronto Blue Jays 12-6.
“It’s a tough game right there,” said Justin Smoak. “We were down and to come back and tie it up, we had a chance there. And then, I don’t know. Just one of those days.
“You’ve got to wash it and thank God for the off day tomorrow (Thursday).”
Jake Petricka (1-1) loaded the bases with two out on a double and a pair of walks before narrowly hitting Max Kepler with a 2-2 slider to give Minnesota a 7-6 lead. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected arguing the call.
“We checked it out, they said it hit him,” Gibbons said. “I just thought it was one of those games. We had a chance, we had some bad base-running, this and that. We had it right there. ... More frustration, one of those deals.”
Mitch Garver followed the hit batsman with a two-run double to bring his RBI total to five on the day, and Robbie Grossman, Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario drove in three more. Four of the six 11th-inning runs were charged to Petricka while Luis Santos allowed the others.
Matt Belisle (1-0) pitched the 10th and Fernando Rodney handled the bottom of the 11th.
Toronto (46-55) had tied the game 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth on a bases-loaded, two-run single from Luke Maile and a force out from Aledmys Diaz. That erased the 6-3 lead Minnesota had built up in the top half of the frame.
“It was exciting, it kinda energized us a little bit,” Smoak said of the eighth-inning rally. “You feel like you’re going to (win). We had them on the ropes there. ... We had the chance there (but) that’s baseball.
“It’s definitely not a good feeling when you feel like you could have won a couple of those games.”
The Blue Jays have an off day Thursday before starting a 10-game trip on Friday. They’ll play three games against the White Sox, three in Oakland and four in Seattle.
The trade deadline — July 31 — is right in the middle of that West Coast stretch.
Multiple reports during the game said the Blue Jays were in the process of trading reliever Seunghwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies. The team did not confirm the reports.
“I love the guy, I think he’s done a tremendous job for us,” Gibbons said. “I don’t know if anything’s going to happen, I know the word’s out there. He’s a pretty good pitcher. He showed us a lot. Great command, great competitor.”
Kendrys Morales drove in a pair of early runs for the Blue Jays and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. extended his multi-hit streak to eight games, a new record among Toronto rookies.
Sam Gaviglio started for Toronto, allowing three runs and six hits over five innings while walking three and striking out four.
“It was a battle,” Gaviglio said. “Each inning I got runners on and nothing was coming easy. ... I didn’t execute pitches the way I wanted to. And they took advantage of it.”
Ervin Santana, in his first start of the year after having surgery on his right middle finger in the off-season, pitched five innings and allowed three runs and seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Santana’s last start for the Twins was Oct. 3 2017 in the AL wild-card game against New York. He lasted just two innings and allowed four runs on three hits, including two homers.
“I thought Ervin was pretty good,” said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor. “He looked pretty comfortable to me and I thought most of the pitches were there.”
Garver also hit a sixth-inning solo homer and a run-scoring single in the second for the Twins (47-53), who swept the three-game series. Mauer had three RBIs.
“It feels good (to get the sweep),” Molitor said. “The flight will be better.”