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Blue Jays hope to avoid 90-loss season against Twins

The Sports Network

10/1/2012 11:14:10 AM

(Sports Network) - The Toronto Blue Jays will try to avoid their first 90-loss season in eight years tonight when they open their final series of the year against the Minnesota Twins.

The Blue Jays (70-89) will need a sweep of the Twins (66-93) to stave off 90 losses for the first time since 2004, when Toronto went 67-94.

Aaron Laffey will get the ball for Toronto.

Laffey was a 4-0 winner in his last outing - a start at Baltimore on Sept. 25 - after scattering five hits in 5 2/3 innings while dropping his season earned run average from 4.80 to 4.52.

The win ended an eight-appearance drought in which he'd gone 0-4 since winning at Oakland on Aug. 5.

Laffey is 5-2 in 17 career meetings with the Twins with a 4.57 ERA in 63 innings.

Right-hander Esmerling Vasquez makes his sixth attempt at a first win of 2012 for Minnesota.

Vasquez has one career relief outing against Toronto and was credited with a hold after retiring one batter and allowing no hits or runs.

On Sunday in Minnesota, Prince Fielder blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Detroit Tigers moved closer to clinching the American League Central Division title with a 2-1 win over the Twins in the rubber match of a three-game series at Target Field.

Fielder's 30th home run of the season, an opposite-field shot to left, was given up by Minnesota reliever Jared Burton (3-2) with two outs. Burton, who replaced starter Liam Hendriks prior to the inning, had retired two batters in a row after allowing a leadoff single to Austin Jackson.

Octavio Dotel pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth, getting Pedro Florimon to fly out to left field with men on the corners. Jose Valverde then pitched the ninth for his 34th save.

Florimon singled home the Twins' lone run in the seventh. Minnesota loaded the bases later in the inning, but Justin Morneau grounded out to second.

"It is a tough loss, but it was a good game and Prince had a big hit for them," Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll said.

In Toronto, the New York Yankees scored eight runs over the final four innings to earn a 9-6 victory over the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Rajai Davis singled with one out and Edwin Encarnacion walked before Escobar drilled an RBI double off the wall in right field. Lind followed with a sacrifice fly.

Toronto stranded a pair in the second and the Yankees got one back in the third when Eric Chavez led off the inning with his 16th homer of the season.

The Jays extended their lead with three runs in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a single and Brett Lawrie blasted his 11th home run into the second deck in left field. Yunel Escobar kept the inning alive with a two-out single, raced to third on a base hit by Adam Lind and scored on single to left by Moises Sierra.

"I would have liked to have a win rather than getting three hits, but obviously that didn't happen," Lawrie said.

The teams split a four-game series in May in Minnesota, their only previous meeting of the 2012 season. The Blue Jays won five of six games between the teams in 2011 and haven't lost the season series since 2005.