Trent Thornton struggles early in Blue Jays loss to Twins

Blue Jays pitcher Trent Thornton, centre, gets a visit at the mound from pitching coach Pete Walker, left, as catcher Luke Maile talks during first inning MLB action Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. Jim Mone / AP Photo

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MINNEAPOLIS – Count Trent Thornton among the young Blue Jays who have had their struggles this season.

All part of the growing process and the management evaluation process tied to the rebuild efforts underway.

Making his fourth career start, Thornton struggled with his command for a second consecutive outing, lasting just 4.2 innings and giving up four runs in the Jays’ 4-1 loss to the Twins.

Thornton wasn’t rocked particularly hard, but a 38-pitch first inning in which he gave up a pair of runs set the tone for the remainder of the night.

Acquired from Houston in the trade that sent Aledmys Diaz to the Astros this past November, Thornton certainly showed some promise in his first two outings when he allowed two and three hits respectively and struck out a combined 15 batters.

“Start of the game I definitely didn’t have my best stuff, I wasn’t locating as well as I should have been,” said Thornton, who has now taken the loss in back-to-back starts. “From there I started to piece things together inning by inning.

“My last two innings I felt finally it was clicking for me, making good pitches and working ahead in counts. But I need to get off to a better start and help the team win and get deeper in games.”

The first two starts vs. the two most recent have certainly been a contrast for Thornton. He was 0-0 in the former but with a tidy ERA of 1.69 while in the past two he’s 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA.

As has happened often with Jays starters this season, Thornton had minimal run support. Toronto’s lone run came in the first when Justin Smoak singled home Freddy Galvis.

“We had nothing going,” Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It was a dead night.”

It certainly was a lifeless Target Field crowd, announced at 11,465 but significantly lighter than that given the all-day rains in the Twin Cities and a game that was delayed by almost an hour and had a first-pitch temperature of 6C.

The Twins were led by 38-year-old veteran Nelson Cruz, who drove in a run with a single in the first and another with an RBI double in the third, both off of Thornton.

After winning the first two here, the Jays (7-12) still have a chance at their first series win of the young season on Thursday, a matinee in which right-hander Clay Buchholz gets the start.

AROUND THE BASES

The Jays are expected to activate reliever Ryan Tepera off of the injured list for Thursday’s series finale, a welcome boost to the bullpen.

– With Wednesday’s loss, the Jays haven’t managed to win more than two in a row yet this season, having captured back-to-back games just twice.

– The Jays did manage eight hits on Wednesday but all of them were singles.

– With his RBI single in the first, Smoak has now reached base safely in 14 of the 15 games he’s played.

rlongley@postmedia.com

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