TORONTO — These are the nights that are the painful part of the rebuilding process for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The nights when the youngsters make errors, the bats are quiet, and there is little energy at Rogers Centre.
The Minnesota Twins took full advantage on Monday evening, belting three homers in an 8-0 rout. Martin Perez combined with two relievers on a three-hit shutout to hand the Blue Jays their sixth loss in seven games.
Perez struck out nine batters and refused to let Toronto build any momentum.
"He commanded both sides of the plate, used all his pitches, tried to stay simple and not get too deep into it," said Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli. "He pitched great. He really set the tone."
Jason Castro, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco went deep for the Twins (21-12), who outhit the Blue Jays 12-3 and were in control from the start.
Toronto starter Marcus Stroman was touched up for five earned runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. His earned-run average jumped to 2.96 from 2.20.
"Literally when the ball is coming out of my hand, I'm just losing a little bit of feel," Stroman said. "So that's it. I'll make an adjustment and figure it out next start."
Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo was tossed in the fifth inning after disputing umpire Adam Hamari's called third strike to Brandon Drury.
It was Montoyo's first ejection of the season.
"Right or wrong, any time you complain about balls and strikes, you're going to get thrown out," he said. "I thought there were some tough pitches on Drury so I went up there and let Adam know what I thought.
"I knew I was going to get thrown out."
It didn't spark the Blue Jays (15-20), who were shut out for the third time this season and fell to 7-9 at home.
Some of the younger players in the Toronto lineup are getting consistent reps this season and the growing pains are quite evident at times.
Blue Jays left-fielder Teoscar Hernandez, in his second season as a full-time player, misplayed a Jonathan Schoop liner in the second inning. Castro took the next pitch deep for his fourth homer of the season.
Rookie third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., flubbed a grounder an inning later, Toronto's second error of the night. He made another miscue later in the game and struck out twice on an 0-for-3 night.
"He's going to be alright," Montoyo said. "We've just go to work with him and be patient. He was the No. 1 prospect for a reason."
Toronto has shown flashes of solid play over the first five weeks of the regular season. But last week's 1-5 road trip was ugly at times and the team had little zip Monday in the opener of a six-game homestand.
Freddy Galvis stroked Toronto's first hit of the game in the fourth inning and Justin Smoak walked ahead of Guerrero, briefly stirring the announced crowd of 12,292.
But the 20-year-old — now batting .152 on the season — grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"I think he's going to be fine," Stroman said. "I think he knows how good he is and that he's going to be here for a long time. He's just kind of ironing out the kinks."
Perez (5-0) allowed two hits and two walks over his 102-pitch outing. Relievers Ryne Harper and Matt Magill worked an inning apiece.
Stroman was looking to bounce back after lasting 3 1/3 innings in his previous start. But he couldn't find an early rhythm, giving up a pair of singles in the opening frame before a botched pickoff attempt led to an unearned run.
Galvis was charged with an error when he couldn't come up with Stroman's throw to second base, allowing both runners to advance. Rosario then drove in Polanco with a slow grounder to second base.
Minnesota scored in four of the first five innings. Rosario's fifth-inning solo homer to straightaway centre — his 12th homer of the season — ended Stroman's night.
Polanco hit a solo shot off reliever Daniel Hudson in the seventh inning for his sixth homer of the season.
Castro was hit in the right arm by a pitch in the eighth inning. The Twins said he is day to day with an elbow contusion.
Notes: The game took two hours 52 minutes to play. ... Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi was named American League player of the week on Monday. He earned two victories last week and didn't allow a run over 13 innings pitched. ... Toronto's Aaron Sanchez (3-2, 3.09) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Tuesday against fellow right-hander Jose Berrios (5-1, 2.91). ... The Blue Jays will get an off-day Thursday before completing their six-game homestand with a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press