Expert Cappers Picks
Major League Baseball
Preview
Toronto at Minnesota
When: 1:10 PM ET, Thursday, April 18, 2019
Where: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Marwin Gonzalez has responded after sitting out the series opener with four hits and hopes to build off that while leading the Minnesota Twins to a split of the four-game set Thursday afternoon against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. Gonzalez was 5-for-34 to start the season after signing a two-year $21 million deal with the Twins, but homered in Tuesday’s loss and singled home a run in the 4-1 win Wednesday to improve to 4-for-7 in the series.

Slugger Nelson Cruz also came through for Minnesota with two RBIs on Wednesday to raise his batting average to .313 while teammate Jorge Polanco (.429) continued his hot start with a pair of hits and is 9-for-16 his past four contests. Michael Pineda will try to give the Twins another strong outing when he takes the mound Thursday and the Blue Jays counter with veteran right-hander Clay Buchholz, who impressed in his first start with the club last time out. Toronto had won three of four games before leaving six runners on base in Wednesday’s setback, being limited to Justin Smoak’s RBI single in the first inning. Shortstop Freddy Galvis has been the best hitter for the Blue Jays all season (.338, five homers, 11 RBIs) and he finished 2-for-4 with a run scored in Wednesday’s defeat.

TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), FS North (Minnesota)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Clay Buchholz (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Twins RH Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.00)

Buchholz was outstanding in his debut with the Blue Jays after signing as a free agent, limiting Tampa Bay to one run on six hits over six innings. The 34-year-old Texan, who was 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in his comeback season with Arizona in 2018, struck out a pair and did not walk a batter Saturday. Cruz (5-for-15) and C.J. Cron (2-for-2) have each homered versus Buchholz, who is 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) against Minnesota.

Pineda has put together three straight solid starts to open his first season with the Twins while permitting five runs on 13 hits across 15 total innings. The 30-year-old Dominican Republic native, who missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, has struck out 15 and walked just two. Smoak is 5-for-10 with two homers against Pineda, who gave up 10 runs on 19 hits over eight innings versus Toronto in 2017.

WALK-OFFS

1. Toronto INF Eric Sogard is 4-for-8 with a walk and two runs scored since being recalled earlier in the week.

2. Minnesota RHP Blake Parker is 4-for-4 in save opportunities after striking out two in the ninth inning for another Wednesday.

3. The Blue Jays have just four stolen bases for 28th in the majors and the Twins are tied for last with three.

PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Twins 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Toronto 7-12 L1 4-6 3-6 3-5 4-7 0-0 0-0
Minnesota 9-6 W1 5-3 4-3 1-2 6-1 0-0 2-3
Last Meeting
Toronto Minnesota
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
4/17/19 TOR 1 MIN 4 .242 0 .507 .290 0 .759
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Toronto T. Hernandez .455 5 1.227
Minnesota J. Polanco .667 6 1.861
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Toronto T. Hernandez 1 1 5
Minnesota J. Polanco 1 5 1
Pitching ERA Avg K
Toronto 4.15 .275 20
Minnesota 4.00 .215 27
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Toronto F. Galvis .338 24 .970
Minnesota J. Polanco .429 24 1.252
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Toronto F. Galvis 5 10 11
Minnesota E. Rosario 4 9 14
Pitching ERA Avg K
Toronto 3.52 .215 181
Minnesota 4.20 .267 138