Blue Jays 3 Twins 2
TORONTO — Closing out his rookie season with a win sure made getting dressed up as a Toronto Argonauts cheerleader a whole lot easier for Brett Cecil.
The 23-year-old lefty threw six strong innings in his final start while Adam Lind moved closer to 100 RBIs by knocking in a pair as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 Thursday afternoon to split a four-game series.
Afterwards, Cecil and all the other freshmen quite literally squeezed themselves into the blue and white spandex sport bras and skirts worn by Argo cheerleaders for their rookie initiation, while their veteran teammates laughed hysterically and made sarcastic catcalls.
“This will be a first,” Cecil said shaking his head.
Cecil (7-4), who is being shut down after hitting his innings cap at 142 1-3 between triple-A and the majors, delivered one of his cleaner outings, allowing just two runs on seven hits and a walk.
The last number was particularly important for him, as his habit of putting men on has been a nagging issue for him in the big leagues, preventing him from pitching deep into games.
Cecil hadn’t thrown more than five innings in a start since going seven in a 6-5 win at Oakland on Aug. 1. But handling the Twins the way he did, including a combined 0-for-6 for superstars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., offered a reminder of the promise he has.
“To finish like that, I still have a lot of stuff to work on, but it’s really good, really positive,” said Cecil. “I think it’s good that everybody kind of gets knocked around a little bit. You don’t want to through a season pitching well, you don’t learn anything.
“If you have a bad outing, you have something to work on, and make it better.”
Leading the way at the plate was Lind, who opened the scoring with a double that brought home Joe Inglett in the first, and broke a 2-2 tie with a sacrifice fly to deep right in the fifth. He now has 96 RBIs and is on pace to become the first Blue Jays player to hit the century mark since Vernon Wells (106) and Troy Glaus (104) did it in 2006.
“That’s definitely something I want to accomplish,” said Lind, who nearly fell out of the team’s plans with poor start in 2008. “It’s kind of like completely at opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s really amazing to go through what I went through for two years and then to come up here and do what I’ve done this year.”
Jose Bautista homered in the fourth to tie the game 2-2 as the Blue Jays (63-77) completed a 4-4 homestand before a crowd of 11,461, the second-smallest in the team’s 20-year history at Rogers Centre. That was just 302 fans more than the record-setting 11,159 who showed up for Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Twins.
Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp pitched the seventh, Scott Downs the eighth and Jason Frasor the ninth for his eighth save.
“It all starts with pitching and Cecil pitched a good ball game for us,” said Jays manager Cito Gaston. “The guys came out of the bullpen and shut everything down, we were able to by with three runs today.”
Scott Baker (13-8) allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings for the Twins (70-70), who continue to muddle along even as they try to keep AL-Central leading Detroit within their sights.