MINNEAPOLIS — Fernando Romero kept Toronto scoreless while pitching into the sixth inning of his major league debut for Minnesota, giving the Twins a badly needed boost in a 4-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Eddie Rosario homered for the Twins, who won for only the second time in their last 13 games. Romero (1-0) was a big reason why, striking out five in 5 2/3 innings while allowing four hits and three walks. Four relievers preserved the shutout, allowing only two singles the rest of the way.
Marcus Stroman (0-4) had his best performance in six turns for the Blue Jays this season. It his longest appearance and his first with fewer than four runs allowed. The right-hander, who turned 27 on Tuesday, gave up six hits, two runs and one walk in seven innings. He struck out five.
After four of nine games were wiped out by wintry conditions during their first homestand this year, the Twins finally enjoyed some ideal spring weather upon their return to Target Field. They won only two of six games, though, avoiding an even worse outcome were it not for the strong right arm of the 23-year-old Romero.
With a fastball clocking in at 95 mph or higher, Romero deftly worked out of two-on, one-out situations in the second, fourth and fifth innings. He struck out Teoscar Hernandez on a caught-stealing double play to end the third, when first base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled Hernandez’s swing was not checked. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons argued from the dugout and was ejected by home plate umpire Dan Bellino, his first this season and the 45th ejection of his career.
In the fourth, Kendrys Morales, who homered twice on Tuesday, struck out to end the inning on an 87 mph slider in the dirt that was blocked by catcher Jason Castro. Hernandez hit into an inning-ending double-play groundball in the fifth.
Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman and Gregorio Petit drove in runs, and Joe Mauer, Eduardo Escobar and Rosario each had two hits for the Twins.
Blue Jays: CF Curtis Granderson is healthy, but he went 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts in the series.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton will accompany the team on the upcoming 10-game road trip, after taking some swings in the batting cage on Tuesday. He has not been cleared to run yet, beyond on an anti-gravity treadmill. Placed on the DL with migraine headaches more than two weeks ago, Buxton has been recovering from a hairline fracture in his left big toe after fouling a ball off his foot on April 22 in a minor league game. Manager Paul Molitor said he might not need another rehab assignment.
Blue Jays: LHP Jaime Garcia (2-2, 5.40 ERA) pitches on Thursday afternoon to start a straight doubleheader in a one-day stop in Cleveland, the result of a pair of rainouts on April 14 and 15. RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.08 ERA) takes the mound for the Indians. Starters have yet to be announced for the second game.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.94 ERA) pitches on Thursday night to start a four-game series in Chicago. RHP Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 1.78 ERA) takes the mound for the White Sox.
Dave Campbell, The Associated Press