MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Willi Castro had his first career multi-homer game, Matt Wallner homered amongst his career-high four hits, and the Minnesota Twins held off the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7 on Saturday.
Edouard Julien also homered as part of a three-hit day, and Alex Kirilloff and Kyle Farmer each had two of Minnesota’s 14 hits.
All but Castro have spent time in Triple-A St. Paul this season, although Farmer’s was only a four-game rehab assignment.
“When you call guys up, you’re looking for them to help you win a game and then they just take over the game and it’s a bonus,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. "We knew we’re gonna rely on them at some point in the year and that time’s now.”
Bo Bichette had three hits, including a home run for the second straight game, but the Blue Jays lost for the 10th time in 13 games. Daulton Varsho also went deep.
Castro and Wallner went back to back for Minnesota in the fifth, both clearing the fence by inches for a 7-4 lead.
On Castro’s home run to center field, Varsho raced back, leapt, and as he hit the wall, the ball bounced out of his glove, off the top of the padding and over for a two-run home run.
Two pitches later, Wallner’s blast was headed toward the bullpens in left-center. Racing over, Varsho leapt and reached over the wall to momentarily catch the ball with the webbing of his glove. However, the impact knocked the ball free as Varsho fell back to the warning track.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s an all-or-nothing play. It was in my glove and then I hit the wall and it bounced out. Both times. It’s one of those things where you live and die by it,” Varsho said.
It was the first home run this season for Wallner, who entered the game with one hit in 13 at-bats. Castro also homered in the seventh.
“Everyone’s here because we have the talent to perform and help the team, and it’s fun when you see everyone just doing their thing and helping the team win,” said Minnesota starter Pablo López (3-3). He allowed four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings before Jovani Moran and Jhoan Duran allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings.
Jorge López allowed Varsho’s two-run homer as part of a three-run Blue Jays’ ninth, but Brock Stewart retired three of final four hitters for his first save since June 20, 2017.
Chris Bassitt (5-4) allowed seven earned runs in four-plus innings for Toronto, his worst start since allowing nine earned runs to St. Louis in 3 1/3 innings April 2.
A two-run single by Wallner helped stake the Twins to a 3-1 first-inning lead on a sun-drenched afternoon, but Bichette - who homered in the first - had a two-run triple in the third before Cavan Biggio tied it 4-4 in the fourth with a solo shot.
Julien, a Quebec native who represented Canada at the World Baseball Classic, homered in the eighth inning for Minnesota.
“To see all these flags in the stands and play against the team I grew up watching and dreamed of playing for, now to play against them and beat them is a pretty cool feeling,” he said.
Bichette has an MLB-leading 22 multi-hit games this season. He entered the day tied with the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for most in the majors. His 76 hits are also best in the big leagues.
FIRST INNING WOES
For the seventh time in 11 starts, Pablo López did not get through the first inning unscathed, allowing Bichette’s home run. Ten of his 30 earned runs allowed this year have come in the opening frame. His first-inning ERA is 8.18; 3.29 in other innings.
Blue Jays: CF Kevin Kiermaier left after two innings with right lower back discomfort.
Twins: With a day game after a night game, SS Carlos Correa was given the day off. He is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Former Twins’ ace RHP José Berríos (4-4, 4.22) is to take the mound for Toronto in Sunday’s series finale. RHP Bailey Ober (3-1, 2.55) is the scheduled Minnesota starter.
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