Twins flash the leather in loss to Blue Jays

Twins flash the leather in loss to Blue Jays

MINNEAPOLIS -- A pair of superb defensive plays kept the Twins alive against the Blue Jays, but Minnesota ultimately couldn't do enough offensively in a 3-2 loss in 11 innings on Thursday night at Target Field.

Center fielder Danny Santana made the first game-saving catch, robbing Troy Tulowitzki of a go-ahead RBI in the ninth with a leaping grab near the wall in center to end the inning.

Santana's leaping catch

Then, with two outs in the 10th, it was shortstop Eduardo Nunez's turn, as he made a nice diving stop and throw on a grounder hit up the middle by Jose Bautista with a runner on third to again deny Toronto of a go-ahead hit.

"We made some plays," manager Paul Molitor said. "Danny made a nice play and then Nunez made a nice play late in the game to get us off the field, which was good to see. But we didn't have enough offense to win the game."

Santana, a natural shortstop, showed off his speed with his spectacular catch, as he was able to catch up to a ball that was scorched to deep center by Tulowitzki, who put a charge into a 3-1 fastball from closer Kevin Jepsen after a double from Michael Saunders. The ball went an estimated 397 feet and left the bat at 107 mph, according to Statcast™.

Santana had a first step of 0.37 seconds with a maximum running speed of 18.4 mph, covering 77.2 feet, per Statcast™, which also calculated that he had a route efficiency of 96.7 percent.

"Once I started running toward the ball, I knew I had to catch it even if I run into the wall," Santana said through translator Carlos Font. "I was going to catch it."

Jepsen raised his arms in celebration after Santana's catch, and Tulowitzki, who later hit the go-ahead RBI single in the 11th, admitted he was surprised Santana made the play.

"When you hit a 410-foot ball, usually it leaves the park," Tulowitzki said. "In that situation, there's a guy at second base, you're thinking they want to play somewhat in so if there's a base hit, they have a chance to throw the guy out. That wasn't the case there. [Santana] was playing pretty far back, good enough to where a line drive, he can go back there and catch it. So, yeah, I was surprised that it was caught."

Nunez's play was also impressive, as he was able to get to a ball hit to his left before spinning and throwing from his knees to get Bautista at first to strand a runner at third.

Molitor liked the effort from Nunez and from his defense, but the Twins managed four hits in the loss.

"It was a better ballgame all the way around," Molitor said. "But we didn't swing the bats very well."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.