Marquis' slow start too much to overcome

Marquis' slow start too much to overcome

Marquis' slow start too much to overcome
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins made a flurry of roster moves after Wednesday's loss to the Angels, they were hoping it would inject new life into a struggling team.

But that certainly wasn't the case on Thursday, as right-hander Jason Marquis was hit hard in his shortest outing of the season, and the Twins' defense didn't help matters in a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Target Field.

The Twins made multiple miscues in their latest defeat, and manager Ron Gardenhire didn't mince his words when describing his club's performance.

"Things happened out there that don't really happen in high school," Gardenhire said. "People scoring from second base on a double-play ball. Pop flies landing in the infield. What else we got? Lots more. Running into a tag for a double play at second base. It's disappointing. And our starter threw 86 pitches with 46 strikes and 40 balls."

It was another frustrating loss for a Twins team that dropped to 15 games under .500 at 8-23 on the season. It was also the club's 14th loss in its last 17 games.

"It's been tough," said catcher Joe Mauer, who went 0-for-3. "We're just staying positive, but it's been tough. We haven't pitched. We haven't hit. We haven't played defense. And it's tough to win ballgames like that. So we have to figure things out. I think guys are pressing and if we keep doing that, things are going to get worse."

Marquis struggled from the start, allowing two runs in the first inning after loading the bases with one out. Eric Thames brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly before Brett Lawrie laced an RBI single to left field.

The Blue Jays added three more runs in the third, scoring their first run in unusual fashion, as Yunel Escobar scored from second base on a grounder to third base. Trevor Plouffe made a nice play on the grounder from Edwin Encarnacion, but the throw to second caused Alexi Casilla to fall down, which allowed Escobar to score without a throw home.

Encarnacion promptly stole second and scored on a single from Lawrie. Lawrie then advanced all the way to third on a passed ball that was lost by catcher Ryan Doumit before scoring on a ground-rule double from Colby Rasmus.

"They capitalized on our mistakes and that's what good teams do," Doumit said. "I'm at a loss. There's nothing I can say."

Toronto tacked on another run in the fourth, when Encarnacion hit a high popup in front of home plate, but Doumit couldn't see it and it landed behind Marquis for a rare RBI popup single to score Escobar from second.

"That's a routine play that has to be made to help out our pitcher," Doumit said. "When it rains it pours, and it's pouring right now."

It was the last inning for Marquis, who allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks over four innings. It was his shortest outing since he lasted 3 1/3 innings with the D-backs on Aug. 14.

"I'm just trying to find my arm slot more than anything," Marquis said. "I'm getting on the side of the ball and so it's more run than depth than I'd like. Obviously, the results have shown that."

The Twins got on the board against right-hander Henderson Alvarez in the third, scoring on a miscue from the Blue Jays, as an errant throw from Kelly Johnson while trying to turn an inning-ending double play allowed Casilla to score from second.

Josh Willingham later added a solo shot in the sixth inning, which gave him solo homers in back-to-back games.

But it was all the Twins could muster against Alvarez, who allowed just two runs (one earned) on seven hits over seven innings. The Twins also grounded into three double plays to mark the 10th game this season they've grounded into more than one.

"Tonight he'd give up a base hit, but then they'd put the ball on the ground and we turned a number of double plays again," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Henderson. "And really he kept control of the game. He might not have been as sharp as his last time out, but just a solid effort by him overall."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.