He had three poor starts in a row in early July but was able to turn things around and the Blue Jays called him up a month later. His hard work paid off Tuesday when he earned his first major-league victory in Toronto's 4-3 win over Minnesota.
"There were parts of this year where I honestly wasn't sure whether I was going to get here," Jenkins said. "But fortunately the Blue Jays gave me a chance and now I'm just trying to run with it."
Jenkins (1-3) was solid over five-plus innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs in his third major-league start. Pitching on three days rest, he threw 48-of-74 pitches for strikes.
"Going out tonight and getting that win, that's huge for the confidence going into the off-season," he said.
Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer off Twins starter Anthony Swarzak (3-6) as Minnesota (66-95) dropped its fourth straight game. Casey Janssen worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.
The Twins are last in the American League Central division while Toronto (72-89) is fourth in the East.
Jenkins, 24, was selected by the Blue Jays in the first round (No. 20 overall) of the 2009 draft. The six-foot-four 235-pounder made 10 relief appearances for Toronto before getting starts against Tampa Bay and New York.
"He's a guy that's come up and hasn't been intimidated by the environment at the major-league level and has been very effective," said Jays manager John Farrell. "Even when he was in the bullpen, he's been efficient and he's done a solid job in the time he's been here."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Jenkins had some late finish on the ball.
"You can see the ball OK off him but with that late jump we didn't square him up too many times," he said. "Nice looking kid.”
Some of Toronto's other youngsters helped the Blue Jays get on the board in the third inning.
Second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria doubled and moved to third on a groundout by Moises Sierra. After an Anthony Gose walk, Rajai Davis singled to push Hechavarria across with the game's first run.
Johnson followed an inning later with his 16th homer of the season. The Blue Jays added another run in the fifth when Gose scored from third on a Yunel Escobar single.
Jenkins, who will finish the season with a 4.50 earned-run average, gave up a two-run homer to Denard Span in the sixth inning.
The Twins made it a one-run game in the seventh inning when Alexi Casilla doubled to score Trevor Plouffe.
Swarzak allowed five hits and four earned runs over five innings. He walked three batters and had two strikeouts.
Minnesota had 10 hits on the night.
Notes: Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 13,930. The game took two hours 33 minutes to play. ... Johnson struck out in the second inning to tie Jose Canseco's single-season franchise record of 159 strikeouts, set back in 1998. Canseco also had 46 home runs and 107 RBIs that year. ... Jenkins is the 12th different Blue Jay to make a start this season. ... Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion was not in the lineup. He hasn't played since leaving Sunday's game against New York due to a tight muscle in his left shoulder area. ... Twins left-hander Scott Diamond (12-8) of Guelph, Ont., will take on Toronto's Brandon Morrow (9-7) on Wednesday night in the regular-season finale for both teams. ... Farrell said infielder Omar Vizquel would be in the lineup for the finale. Vizquel plans to retire after the season. ... The win gave the Blue Jays a 40-40 home record this season. They haven't had a losing record at Rogers Centre since 2004 (40-41).