Walters makes solid debut in losing effort

Walters makes solid debut in losing effort

Walters makes solid debut in losing effort
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was exactly the type of start the Twins wanted to see from right-hander P.J. Walters, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, but it still wasn't the end result they were seeking.

Walters was impressive in his season debut, allowing just two runs over six strong innings, but the Twins' offense failed to give him much support in a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday at Target Field.

It was a tough loss for the Twins, who went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base, as they failed in their bid to win consecutive games for just the second time this season.

"We haven't won a couple games in a row in I don't how long," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You've got to put together streaks. There's a better feeling out there in the dugout. It's disappointing tonight, but we had plenty of opportunities. We played a pretty decent baseball game. The last couple of games have been pretty entertaining to watch, but again we missed a lot of opportunities tonight to score."

The Twins couldn't capitalize in a key situation in the eighth after Joe Mauer led off the frame with a double off the wall in left-center field. After Josh Willingham flied out to right field, Ryan Doumit drew a walk, but Mauer and Doumit were stranded as Trevor Plouffe flied out to right and pinch-hitter Alexi Casilla struck out.

Minnesota also had runners reach second base in the sixth and seventh innings, but simply failed to take advantage of their opportunities.

"We're swinging the bats well, but we just need timely hits," first baseman Chris Parmelee said. "We just didn't get some guys over and get some guys in tonight. Sometimes that's the way it goes."

It spoiled an impressive outing for Walters, who allowed just two runs on six hits over six innings. He also struck out five and didn't issue a walk.

"Walters threw the ball very good," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Early on, it's a 6 o'clock game -- and not to take anything away from him -- I think hitters had a pretty tough time in just the overall view of the baseball. But he attacked the zone. I thought he used his changeup very well to both righties and lefties, and he gave us everything we could handle through the six innings he pitched."

Walters, making his first start since Sept. 29, 2010, tossed four scoreless frames before giving up his first run in the fifth on an RBI single from Adam Lind after a two-out double from Colby Rasmus.

The Blue Jays tacked on another run on a solo homer from Jose Bautista in the sixth on a 3-2 slider. It was originally ruled a double, but was overturned by video replay, giving Bautista his third homer over his last two games and his 10th in 10 career games at Target Field.

"Full-count, nobody on and two outs, I'm going after him there," Walters said. "I just spun one up there and it caught too much of the plate. If I threw it over to the corner where it's supposed to be, it'd probably be all right."

Bautista's homer came after the Twins opened the scoring with a run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk from Plouffe with two outs against right-hander Drew Hutchison. But Parmelee grounded out to short to end the potential rally.

"He threw a good pitch, he threw a changeup there, and I thought it was a fastball down," said Parmelee, who went 0-for-3. "So he got me. He fooled me."

Parmelee wasn't the only Twins hitter fooled by Hutchison, as he allowed just one run on three hits over six innings. Hutchison, making his fifth career start, also walked four and struck out four.

"My fastball command wasn't that great today, but I battled through that," Hutchison said. "I made some good pitches when I needed to and didn't give in."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.