Teoscar Hernandez hit the go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning, giving the Toronto Blue Jays a badly needed offensive boost with three hits in a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
After Hernandez saved starter Matt Shoemaker from his first loss with his new team, Joe Biagini pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. The Blue Jays, who won for only the fourth time in their last 14 games and entered the evening in the bottom five in almost every batting category in the American League, had a season-high 11 hits.
Jorge Polanco had three hits and raised his batting average to .420 for the Twins, who took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning on C.J. Cron’s three-run homer off Shoemaker but fell to 4-2 at home this season.
Hernandez was guilty of a baserunning gaffe in the sixth, after his one-out single with the Blue Jays trailing against Martin Perez. Brandon Drury began jogging to first base after drawing what he believed was a walk, but it was only ball three. After Hernandez left for second, apparently prompted by Drury’s advancement, Perez alertly threw to first baseman C.J. Cron to complete the unconventional caught stealing before Hernandez could retreat.
The 26-year-old left fielder, who had a breakout 2018 season with 22 home runs in his first crack at being an everyday player in the major leagues, made up for the mistake in his next at-bat.
After Perez finished six innings in his first start for the Twins with only one run allowed and Ryne Harper struck out two batters in a perfect seventh, left-hander Adalberto Mejia was summoned for the eighth with all righties due up for the Blue Jays. Freddy Galvis greeted Mejia with a single, Randal Grichuk doubled for his third hit of the game, and Justin Smoak hit an RBI single. Then Hernandez sent an 0-2 slider from Mejia (0-1) into the second deck for a 5-3 lead.
Sam Gaviglio (1-0) picked up the victory with a scoreless seventh.
Shoemaker was one of only five pitchers in franchise history to win his first three starts with the Blue Jays, whom he signed with after five-plus years with the Los Angeles Angels and major forearm trouble over the last two seasons. The right-hander gave up four hits and four walks while striking out four.
Perez worked out of the bullpen to start the season because the Twins wound up with six days off in the first 16 days of their schedule, including one weather postponement. He gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
Blue Jays: LHP Ryan Borucki (elbow inflammation) was moved to the 60-day injured list, pushing his eligible-to-return date back to May 27, so infielder Eric Sogard could be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to replace the struggling Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Twins: Willians Astudillo played 3B for Marwin Gonzalez, who was given a break amid a 5-for-34 start to his first season with the team.
RHP Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 1.69 ERA) pitches for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, with RHP Kyle Gibson (0-0, 7.71) taking the mound for the Twins.