Litsch locks down Twins

Jesse Litsch made about as strong a case as he could for a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation. Litsch struck out seven in 5 1-3 scoreless innings and the Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 Sunday.

Toronto Blue Jays' Jonathan Diaz breaks up a seventh-inning double play as Minnesota Twins second baseman minor leaguer Michael Holliman holds onto the ball in their spring training baseball game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin

Toronto Blue Jays' Jonathan Diaz breaks up a seventh-inning double play as Minnesota Twins second baseman minor leaguer Michael Holliman holds onto the ball in their spring training baseball game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin

Blue Jays 3 Twins 0

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jesse Litsch made about as strong a case as he could for a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation.

Litsch struck out seven in 5 1-3 scoreless innings and the Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 Sunday.

“Everything was sharp today, everything felt good, my arm felt great, body felt great,” Litsch said after outpitching Scott Baker. “It’s a game. You’re going to have bad ones, you’re going to have good ones. It’s a matter of just staying focused and doing your job when you’re out there.”

In his last start, Litsch gave up nine hits and four runs over 3 1/2 innings against Philadelphia. Manager John Farrell was impressed with his bounce-back effort Sunday.

“Hopefully (Litsch) he has one or two more just like this,” Farrell said. “It makes our decision extremely difficult. That means everyone’s throwing the ball like they can.”

Litsch gave up three hits and did not walk a batter. He is competing with Jo-Jo Reyes and Kyle Drabek for two spots in the rotation. Toronto decided Marc Rzepczynski will start the season in the bullpen.

“Any time you get better odds in life, it’s a great thing,” Litsch said. “I’m out here doing my job. We’re out here battling. We’ve got 10 days left (before opening day). You look at that as a positive going in to the season.”

Rzepczynski was given the chance to start the season in the minors but Rzepczynski chose a relief role.

“He’ll work out of the bullpen the rest of camp,” manager John Farrell said. “What (Rzepczynski) did in a couple of outings coming out of the bullpen last year, I think his stuff plays out better in shorter stints.”

Baker, a candidate for the Twins’ fifth starting spot, struck out six and allowed a run on three hits in four innings. He was troubled by tendinitis in 2010, underwent off-season surgery and still is experiencing discomfort.

“We’re just trying to gauge that he’s healthy and getting out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “and right now it looks like he’s feeling good and the ball’s coming out good.

“He’ll make two or three pitches and you’re like ’What is he doing?”’ Gardenhire said. “And then all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom — some of the nastiest pitches in the world.”

In the first inning, Jose Bautista doubled down the left field line and Adam Lind singled to centre, a soft liner that grazed leaping shortstop Alexi Casilla for a run.

Toronto added its final two runs in the eighth off Jeff Manship, who fanned the first two batters, then gave up a single to Adam Loewen and Travis Snider’s home run to right.

NOTES: Drabek pitches today in a Blue Jays minor league game and Reyes starts Wednesday against the Yankees in place of Brandon Morrow, who will work his regular turn in a minor league game. Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose and catcher Travis d’Arnaud were sent to minor league camp. Toronto, off Monday, starts Ricky Romero on Tuesday against Cliff Lee and Philadelphia. Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill, sidelined all spring with a strained right thigh muscle, is expected to play Tuesday. Minnesota’s Brian Duensing starts today against Pittsburgh.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read