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KC@TOR: Dickey strikes out six over eight innings

The Twins and Blue Jays were unable to complete series sweeps on Wednesday, and both will be looking to get back to their recent winning ways starting Friday at Target Field.

While Toronto has won three straight series for the first time since its 11-game winning streak, Minnesota has won four of six after dropping five in a row.

However, at this point in the season, it's more about progression and seeing what they have in some young players than it is about wins and losses.

Toronto, in particular, has been playing a handful of rookies from Triple-A -- largely due to injury -- but the club's 7-3 record over its past 10 games has left manager John Gibbons impressed with the new guys.

"They are doing a nice job, they're playing some pretty good baseball right now," Gibbons said. "This gives those guys more opportunities."

The Blue Jays will have even more room in the outfield with slugger Jose Bautista officially done for the season.

"He's been out a couple weeks now, doctor said he's healing fine," Gibbons said. "But realistically, a week or so from now when he's ready to go and cranks it up to get back into shape, the season will be pretty much over, so it makes perfect sense to shut him down."

Toronto's rookies will have to deal with Twins starter Mike Pelfrey, who's coming off one of his best outings of the season against the Rangers.

The 29-year-old right-hander tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and striking out a season-high-tying seven.

"It was good after walking six last time," Pelfrey said. "I told you guys that was pretty embarrassing. I think it was a career high, so that's not me. So I wanted to go back out there and get ahead and throw strikes."

Pelfrey will be opposed by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who will look for some retribution after allowing six earned runs in seven innings last time on the bump against the Twins.

However, Dickey has been better of late, sporting a 3-1 record and a 2.70 ERA over his last seven starts.

Last time out, he took care of the Royals, allowing just two earned runs over eight innings.

"I changed speeds quite a bit today," Dickey said. "I was able to keep the slower knuckleball down and got some outs with it. Any time you can add and subtract speed in the strike zone, you're going to have a better chance of your opponent mishitting balls. That was helpful for me today. I took some risks, and they paid off."

Blue Jays: Bautista out for remainder of season
Bautista will end his season prematurely for the second straight year.

The Blue Jays slugger has been dealing with a bone bruise in his left hip recently and will no longer have enough time to rest and rehab his injury to return this season.

"It's been healing really nice with good progression, but we'd only have a handful of games left, so he recommended we shut it down," Bautista said. "It's not exactly how I wanted to end the season, but there's not much you can do once you have an injury. I have no choice but to follow the doctor's recommendation. It's the timing of it, and obviously, the fact that we're not in contention plays a little bit into the decision making. It's a combination of all those things."

Toronto's right fielder visited Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York earlier this week and learned he'd need to rest his hip for two more weeks before beginning baseball activities.

Twins: Mauer getting closer to return
Joe Mauer took another step toward returning to the Twins on Wednesday. The Minnesota catcher took live batting practice at Target Field as his club finished off its series in Houston.

"He's coming along," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who added no further details.

Mauer has been sidelined with a concussion after taking a foul tip off the facemask on Aug. 19. The 30-year-old All-Star has missed the club's last 15 games as a result, and he is currently on the 15-day disabled list.

Prior to the injury, Mauer had played the second-most games of anyone on the club. He was also batting .395 with three home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored in his past 10 games.

Worth noting
• So far, only Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera have hit 35 or more home runs with 100 or more RBIs in each of the past two seasons.

• Minnesota is close to finishing its second straight season with more wins away from Target Field. The Twins are 33-41 on the road, and 28-36 at home. While it's happened in back-to-back years, it marks the only time the club has done so since 2000.

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