Leave it to Kevin Gregg to put a little damper on the Jays’ fine finish. The big fella reached back into his bag of tricks this afternoon in Minnesota, loading the bases before giving up a two-out, two-run single to Alexei Casilla in the ninth to hand the Twins a 5-4 win. Realistically, though, could we have expected anything else?
Gregg’s choking act (an overdue one, at that, since he’d been strong in three appearances since nearly blowing last Friday’s game) cost Shaun Marcum, who gave up three runs on just five hits over seven innings, a shot at his 14th win. Instead, the reliable righty finished 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA over 31 starts, with the late-season six-man rotation leaving him just 4 2/3 innings short of the magic 200 mark. Fine stuff for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, and that’s not the homer in me talking, either.
Edwin Encarnacion continued his final week surge, hitting a two-run homer — his fourth of the series and 20th of the year — to give the Jays a 3-1 lead in the second. Toronto added another on a Jose Molina double play ball in the fourth, but Minnesota got two back on a Casilla single in the fifth to cut it to 4-3.
Encarnacion’s 20th home run made him the seventh player on the team to reach the plateau, joining Jose Bautista (54), Vernon Wells (31), Aaron Hill (26), Adam Lind (22), Lyle Overbay (20) and John Buck (20). Pretty, pretty, pretty good for a team that had just one man (Wells, who did it in the final game) hit a mere 20 two short seasons ago.
The loss is just Toronto’s third in its last 12 games and snaps a skid of seven losses in eight games for the Twins, who still hold a shot at home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs with the win. With 161 in the bag, the Jays close the 2010 season tomorrow afternoon at Target Field, with Marc Rzepczynski (3-4, 5.56) going against Nick Blackburn (10-11, 5.55).