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MLB

Blue Jays snap losing skid with extra-inning win over Twins

By Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, left, is congratulated by Justin Smoak after his two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, left, is congratulated by Justin Smoak after his two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS  - 

Do the Minnesota Twins respect Edwin Encarnacion.

Or is it mostly fear?

Oswaldo Arcia was playing Encarnacion so deep when he came to the plate in the 11th inning that the Twins left fielder was actually standing on the warning track.

If Arcia were any deeper, he would have been in Section 129 with the paying customers.

Encarnacion reached on a broken bat single, Ezequiel Carrera pinch-ran, advanced on a Justin Smoak single and scored the winning run on a Troy Tulowitzki liner.

The three hits in the 11th — the Jays had only six hits the first 10 innings — gave Toronto a 3-2 win before 25,435 fans at Target Field.

Toronto had lost five straight for the first time since September 2013.

Roberto Osuna worked two innings without allowing a base-runner to record the win, while Joe Biagini picked up his first save in 90 pro appearances. The Rule V pick showed poise when Danny Santana broke early attempting to steal second in the 11th. Biagini stepped off and threw a strike to second for the second out.

The Jays’ new lineup had Jose Bautista leading off, Encarnacion third and Smoak clean up.

HIT THE TARGET

Since Target Field opened in 2010, the Jays have hit 31 home runs in 21 games. That’s the second highest total outside of American League East parks.

The only visiting park not in the East where they have hit more is Globe Life in Arlington, Tex., where they have hit 42 in 26 games.

“I like the hitting back-drop here, this is one of my top two favourites for sure,” said Encarnacion before Thursday night’s series opener. He had five homers in four games during the Jays’ first visit on the final weekend of the 2010 season.

He rated his favourite two stadiums to visit as Target and Fenway Park, a possible Encarnacion destination next year since the Jays have shown little interest in re-signing the soon-to-be free agent.

Next to Arizona’s Chase Field and Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, of the stadiums he has been to more than once, Encarnacion has the highest OPS in Minneapolis at .988.

The Jays were trailing 2-0 in the sixth on Thursday when Josh Donaldson walked and Encarnacion hit the first pitch he saw into the second deck in left. After a three-hit night, he is now batting .358, with a double, seven homers and 18 RBIs in 20 games at Target.

Bautista hit a leadoff single in the first and has shown the most production at Target of parks he has been to more than once, hitting .356 with five doubles, 11 homers and 17 RBIs.

“My favourite places to hit? Fenway Park, here and at home,” said Bautista.

JIMMY BALL GAME

New Jays utilityman Jimmy Paredes had it backwards.

First he taketh away: A between-the-wickets clank leading to the Minnesota Twins first run.

And then he giveth: A leadoff double in the 10th. Except the Jays — Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar and Bautista — managed only three ground balls off Brandon Kintzler, which couldn’t get him home. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez made a diving stop to save a run, stealing a hit from Bautista.

Ryan Goins took over second in the 11th after the Jays had the lead.

IN GAME

Third baseman Donaldson made a diving stop of a Byung Ho Park liner in the 10th ... With Michael Saunders on second and two out in the top of the ninth, Twins centre fielder Danny Santana made a game-saving play, stealing extra bases away from Tulowitzki with a grab on the warning track ... Tulowitzki then stole a base hit on a hard smash from Joe Mauer ... The go-go Twins used small ball up 2-0 as Santana beat out a roller to Donaldson on a bang-bang play at first and scored on Mauer’s one-hopper with two out in the third to centre. Mauer went to second on the throw home as Martin fired to shortstop Tulowitzki, who applied the tag. Mauer was ruled safe, but the Jays appealed and the ruling on the field was overturned after a 50-second delay. Mauer slid in safely but in popping up came off the base.

PITCHING TOUGH

In a game neither starting pitcher deserved to lose, neither did. Marco Estrada was impressive again, working eight innings allowing one earned run on three singles and a walk, while fanning nine. He threw 104 pitches (68 strikes) lowering his ERA to 2.61. Estrada retired the final 10 men he faced in order ... Ervin Santana also pitched eight innings. His ERA is 3.13 after setting down 13 straight from Encarnacion’s first-inning single with two out to Martin’s fifth inning single with two out. Santana spurned the Jays, first in 2014 and then on this night he burned them, turning away the Blue Jays new, revamped, but not improved lineup. Toronto thought it had an agreement to sign the free-agent right-hander to a one-year $14.1 million US deal in the spring of 2014. Then the Atlanta Braves lost two starters to season-ending injuries and Santana headed south.