Burnett solid, but offense sputters
Right-hander pitches complete-game three-hitter in loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Blue Jays were treated to the latest episode of the Justin Morneau show on Sunday, as the 2006 MVP spoiled a solid outing by A.J. Burnett
The Jays out-slugged the Twins, six hits to three, but it was Morneau's bat and mistakes by Burnett that led to the Jays dropping the series finale, 4-2, in Minneapolis.
"It was the Morneau Show. That's why he's the MVP," manager John Gibbons said. "Burnett pitched his heart out, he really did, we just really could never get anything going."
The three hits allowed tied a season low for Burnett, and the complete game was the second in his last three starts. But one misplaced fastball to Morneau spelled disaster for Burnett and the Jays. That mistake came in the sixth inning when Morneau launched the first pitch he saw 433 feet to right field driving in two runs.
"Just one bad pitch. One bad pitch in eight innings and I paid for it," Burnett said. "I mislocated a fastball and he hit it right where he was supposed to hit it. It was a mistake."
One bad pitch out of the 124 that Burnett threw does not make a bad outing. But he also issued three walks, two of which came around to score, and was charged with an error when he overthrew first on a Morneau chopper in the third. The single scored one and Jeff Cirillo scored on the throwing error.
"I never had a grip on it," Burnett said. "I should have just held the ball, but I tried to make an aggressive play."
The Twins knew what they were going up against in Burnett, and recognized that they were lucky to finish off the series with a victory.
"We kept saying to the hitters to make him work with his pitches. That's a great pitcher on the mound, [and the] thing is [to] make him work and throw a lot of pitches," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's hard to do, because he's got such good stuff. It's a learning process for young hitters. We made him work but he still stayed out there for a complete game."
Morneau and Nick Punto were the only Twins hitters able to get a hit off of Burnett. The rest of the Twins lineup went 0-for-21.
"When he's on, he's tough. I remember the game he threw last year here and we didn't touch him," Morneau said. "If you don't come with your best against him, I don't think you are going to win."
The Jays hitters couldn't get to Twins starter Carlos Silva, who had his sinker and fastball working well to snap his four-game losing streak. Silva pitched 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season.
Frank Thomas had a productive 39th birthday, as he was one of two Jays to score on Burnett. Thomas, who also had a double, scored on a Jason Phillips single after drawing a walk in the second inning.
Rookie Adam Lind provided the only other offensive burst for Toronto when he came in and hit the first pinch-hit home run of his career in the eighth inning.
"It's frustrating, but that's the way things have been going for us," Vernon Wells, who went 1-for-4, said. "[Saturday] was a great game, we just weren't able to follow it up with another good one."
Wells, who signed a seven-year $126 million extension in December, is mired in a slump. He has only nine hits in his last 40 at-bats, dropping his season average to .266 and has driven in only five runs in that span.
"I've hit some balls hard -- and that's all you can do is try to put the bat on the ball and see what happens," Wells said. "If I could guide them, I would, and I'd be hitting about .800 right now, but it's not that easy."
The Blue Jays have now lost 11 of their last 15 games on the road and have won only two three-game road series this season. They finished their current nine game road trip 4-5, but Gibbons wasn't totally discouraged.
"We played some good ball along the way," Gibbons said. "It'll be really good to get back home."
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.