Gardenhire tells slumping Twins to relax

Published 4:42 pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

TORONTO — Stuck in a six-game losing streak, the Minnesota Twins aren’t having much fun right now.

That’s why manager Ron Gardenhire wants his struggling team to lighten up a little.

Jose Bautista hit his 20th home run, Mark Buehrle pitched seven shutout innings to win for the first time in three starts and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the slumping Twins 4-0 Friday.

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Minnesota has dropped 11 of its past 14 overall and is a season-worst 11 games below .500 at 36-47.

“We’ve got to get back to relaxing and having some fun, seeing some guys smile,” Gardenhire said. “There’s too much tension here.”

Gardenhire said his team hasn’t been handling adversity very well.

“It seems like the air goes out of us a little too quick,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve got to be able to rebound better, we’ve got to relax a little bit. There’s too much tension in our dugout. I told the boys ‘This is baseball. We’re making it like a job right now. It’s got to be baseball.”’

Starter Kevin Correia said the Twins are doing their best not to let the losing get them down.

“I think your first instinct when things aren’t going good is to kind of tighten up and try to force something to happen, and that’s not a good way to play baseball,” Correia said. “We want to stay loose and have a good time, that’s usually when you play your best.”

Buehrle (5-5) allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his past five home starts.

“I had everything working,” Buehrle said. “Me and (catcher J.P. Arencibia) worked well together. The tempo was there, I was making pitches when I needed to.”

Buehrle hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 35 2-3 innings against the Twins, dating to 2011.

“He was outstanding tonight,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s had some really good outings this year, but that was up with the best of them.”

Brett Cecil worked the eighth and Dustin McGowan finished as Minnesota was shut out for the seventh time.

“Not a very good ball game for us,” Gardenhire said. “Buehrle shut us down.”

Bautista had three hits and two RBIs and Jose Reyes had three hits, drove in two runs and stole a base as the Blue Jays snapped a three-game skid and won for just the fourth time in 12 games since matching a franchise record with an 11-game winning streak.

The Twins have lost 17 of 23 to the Blue Jays, including eight of nine at Rogers Centre. They haven’t won any of their eight series in Toronto since 2005.

Minnesota put runners at second and third with one out in the first, but Buehrle escaped by striking out Justin Morneau and Trevor Plouffe.

“When he gets on a roll like that and is painting the corners, the game just goes quick on you,” Gardenhire said of Buehrle. “You don’t get many opportunities. We had a couple and missed them.”

Toronto stranded two runners in each of the first two innings against Correia, but Bautista got them on the board in the third with a solo homer.

“I threw him a bad pitch right there,” Correia said. “The home run was just a hanging curveball. Obviously he’s a very good power hitter and he hit it out.”

Maicer Izturis and Arencibia drew back-to-back walks to begin the fourth and moved up on Munenori Kawasaki’s sacrifice before scoring on Reyes’ double. Bautista followed with an RBI single.

“Those two walks are kind of what killed me,” Correia said.

Correia (6-6) allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out three.

This was the first of 10 straight road games for the Twins, who’ll visit Tampa Bay for four and the New York Yankees for three before the All-Star break. Minnesota is 15-24 away from home.

“I have no doubt we are going to get out of it and get on a little run,” Correia said. “It would be nice to get on a little run going into the All-Star break and come back refreshed.”

NOTES: Buehrle made his 50th career start against the Twins. … Blue Jays OF Melky Cabrera (left knee) ran for the first time Friday since going on the DL June 28. Manager John Gibbons said Cabrera will go through a minor league rehab stint before rejoining the Blue Jays. … Gibbons confirmed that Todd Redmond will start Sunday in place of Chien-Ming Wang, who cleared waivers Friday and was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo. … The roof was closed when the game began but opened in the second inning.