The Orioles moved to .500 on the year in a one-run loss to the Twins, and Chris Davis saw his hot start cool off a little bit with an 0-4 day. Jason Hammel was great when he was throwing strikes (he had five-pitch innings in the 4th and the 6th and a 1-2-3 in the 2nd), but unfortunately he walked three and hit two. Four of these mistakes were the only runs to cross the plate for the Twins. It's always frustrating to give up runs, but doubly so (speaking as a fan here, not a pitcher) when those runs are on BBs and HBPs.
What's bad is that two of those walks were to Pedro Florimon, the #9 hitter with the career .316 SLG. You'll also note that the two hit batters are righties (Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe), showing that Hammel was missing to his arm side all afternoon. Jim Palmer commented how Hammel was maybe landing on his left foot incorrectly, causing his pitching arm to not come down over the top correctly.
Now, the good -- Hammel's line shows 6 2/3 IP and 4 ER, but two of those runs came on a fly ball that would've ended the third inning had Adam Jones not lost the ball in the sun and miscommunicated with Nolan Reimold. The ball dropped between them, and Justin Morneau was credited with a two-run double that kept the Twins in the game. They had been down 3-0 (on a 2-run HR by J.J. Hardy and RBI single by Nick Markakis).
Offensively, Jones continued his hot start to the season, reaching base three out of four times on a double, a single, and a walk, and scoring on Hardy's home run. Although if we're taking blame away from Hammel for a misplay in the outfield, we have to take credit away from Jones for his "double", it came when Aaron Hicks slipped and couldn't catch a routine fly ball. (The sun was bright today; later, Joe Mauer notched an error by muffing a foul pop up.)
Markakis also swung the bat well with a 2-4 day; two singles, one of which was his first RBI of the year. Go 'kakes!! And then there's Davis, who saw his hitting streak end at five games. In four PAs he struck out (swinging) once and grounded out to the right side three times. His biggest chance (and the biggest plate appearance of the game) came in the 7th inning with two on and two out and the O's down by one. He took Brian Duensing to 2-2, fouled off a pitch, and then grounded out to the second baseman.
The only other notable play was a sweet CS that Taylor Teagarden and Alexi Casilla pulled on Twins pinch runner Darin Mastroianni. With one out, Brian Matusz pitching, and a 1-0 count on Ryan Doumit, Mastroianni took off for second on the next pitch. The throw pulled Casilla to his left and off his feet, and because Mastroianni was sliding headfirst, I didn't think Casilla could make the play. And he wouldn't have, except as Mastroianni dove for the bag his legs flew into the air at the precise spot where Casilla had just caught Teagarden's throw. Mastroianni's legs reached Casilla's glove before his hands reached the bag, and he was out. Credit to the Birds for the play and to Chris Guccione for making that close call.
The big innings were in the 2nd, when the O's scored all their runs to go up 3-0; and the 7th, when Chris Parmalee hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to tie it at 3 and Hicks hit a go-ahead RBI single.
- The O's were patient at the plate today. They made spot-starter Pedro Hernandez throw 83 pitches in five innings, working three walks, and they worked the Twins' bulllpen similarly hard. As a team they had a 8/4 K/BB ratio.
- Brian Matusz and Pedro Strop each worked scoreless appearances today. Matusz struck out two and walked one; Strop struck out one.
- Sadly, Reimold broke himself again. He was lifted after the 6th due to hamstring tightness. He went 1-3 with a run scored and a GIDP.
- The O's three losses to date have been by one run; their three wins have been by three or more runs.
- Out of 91 strikes thrown by the Twins staff, the Orioles swung and missed at only 11.