Blue Jays-Twins Preview

Drew Hutchison owns the majors' best run-support average for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Minnesota Twins starter Ricky Nolasco doesn't own that distinction only because he hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify for it.

These right-handed starters have combined for nine wins even though each has a 5.12 ERA as they match up Sunday at Target Field.

Hutchison (4-1, 5.12 ERA) owns a run-support average of 9.00, though he didn't need that much help Monday as he threw 96 pitches in a four-hitter for his second career shutout in a 6-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"I got a lot of early swing ground balls and got double plays," he said. "That was the key to getting deep in the game and keeping the pitch count down."

Nolasco (5-1, 5.12) actually has a 9.09 run-support average, but a stint on the disabled list that kept him out most of April is why he has not pitched enough to qualify. He has posted a 3.77 ERA in winning all five starts since returning.

The injury problems resulted in a difficult start in which he was booed for not being able to get through the sixth inning. Nolasco finally cleared that hurdle Monday by giving up two runs in 7 2-3 innings in a 7-2 home win over Boston.

"The last couple starts I was frustrated not being able to finish that sixth inning," Nolasco said. "So I thought it was good to go deep in the game."

While no Twins hitter has more than three at-bats against Hutchison, Nolasco has more experience against the Blue Jays (23-28) with a 4.15 ERA and no decisions in three starts. Jose Reyes is a .346 hitter in 52 at-bats versus Nolasco, Edwin Encarnacion is 5 for 14 and Jose Bautista is 1 for 8.

One hitter Nolasco hasn't faced is Josh Donaldson, who had a single in three at-bats in Saturday's 3-2 loss for Toronto. That ended the longest home run streak of Donaldson's career at four - the longest by a Blue Jays hitter since Bautista's five-game streak Aug. 26-31.

Donaldson had five homers and 10 RBIs during his four-game run. He is batting .408 during a 19-game hitting streak against the Twins.

Minnesota (29-19) evened this three-game set as Brian Dozier tripled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning.

The Blue Jays, who ended a five-game road slide with Friday's 6-4 victory, went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position one day later and hit into double plays in the first three innings.

Encarnacion was the first Toronto hitter to do so and was 0 for 3. The slugger has just a single over his last 19 at-bats.

Former Twins outfielder Chris Colabello is batting .385 during a 10-game hitting streak for Toronto.

Torii Hunter, who has a team-high 30 RBIs, is expected back in the Twins lineup after a scheduled day off Saturday. Hunter, who will match Justin Morneau for eighth place on Minnesota's all-time list with his 1,278th game, is batting .323 during an eight-game hitting streak.


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