After three close games against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles gave everyone a breather tonight with an easy 9-1 win over the Minnesota Twins. Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings, Chris Davis hit a grand slam, and Brian Matusz closed out the game with six up, six down. The umpires were also on the Orioles' side tonight as they completely botched a fan interference call and awarded Delmon Young a two-run homer run that shouldn't have been.
The starting pitcher for the Twins was Trevor May, a rookie who has gotten off to a pretty rough start to his major league career. He entered tonight with an 8.79 ERA in four games, but he didn't look like that bad of a pitcher the first time through the O's order. In fact, through the first three innings May allowed just one hit, a blooper by J.J. Hardy that fell in front of the left fielder. May looked just as good as his counterpart on the Orioles, in fact. At least until the fourth inning.
As the bottom of the third inning was winding down, Jimmy Paredes stepped into the on-deck circle to hit for Steve Pearce. He didn't get into the batter's box then, but seeing that one of the team's hottest hitters was coming out the game immediately sent waves of panic through Birdland. Paredes came into the game at third base in the top of the fourth with Chris Davis moved to first. The early word is that Steve Pearce exited the game with an abdominal strain. In Buck Showalter's post-game press conference he said that Pearce had felt the pain a few days ago, but it wasn't bothering him yesterday. Pearce will get an MRI tomorrow to try and determine the severity. Fingers crossed.
Paredes led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to the right side, after which May lost all control. I actually started to feel bad for the guy. He hit Adam Jones in the hip, then immediately hit Nelson Cruz in the forearm. Both pitches were fastballs and looked like they hurt, but thankfully neither player was hit in a part of the body that breaks easily. After the pitch hit Cruz, May spun around and made an angry face, obviously disgusted with himself. That loaded the bases and May came back to strike out Delmon Young, even though he was still missing the strike zone.
The O's first run of the night came on a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Hardy. May clearly had no idea where his pitchers were going, and when Chris Davis stepped into the plate he took two straight balls before unleashing a huge swing for strike one. Davis knew May didn't have any command and wanted to crush one. He got his chance two pitches later on a 3-1 count. May threw a fastball low in the strike zone but down the middle and Davis didn't miss that one. It went over the right-center wall for the grand slam and gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead. Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop struck out to end the inning, but the Orioles had given Miguel Gonzalez all the runs he needed.
Trevor May came back out for the bottom of the fifth inning, but that was a terrible decision. With Nick Markakis on third via a double and a ground out, Adam Jones singled to left to make the score 6-0. Then with two outs, Delmon Young hit a ball to deep left field. It looked like Jordan Schafer was going to have a play but when he leaped up it missed his glove. It did not miss the glove of an Orioles fan who clearly reached over the fence to grab the ball. His glove (because of course he was a grown man with a glove) actually smacked the front of the wall as he pulled it back in. The umpires reviewed it but somehow still called it a home run. It was a little embarrassing due to how blatant the interference was. Young should have been awarded a double. Instead he was given a home run, the final nail in May's coffin. He was pulled with a pitching line of: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 2 HBP.
As for MiGo, he looked strong tonight. Brian Dozier singled with out out in the first, but Gonzalez went on to retire the next ten batters before giving up another single with two outs in the fourth. After the O's scored runs for him in the fourth, he allowed two baserunners with two outs thanks to a walk and a single, but struck out Danny Santana to end Twins' fifth-inning rally. He only allowed one more batter to reach in the game, but unfortunately it was on a home run that Trevor Plouffe hit to left field. Altogether he was pretty solid, especially compared to the string of poor starts the Orioles have seen of late. The Twins are a last place team, but their hitters have been hot of late. MiGo didn't care.
The O's plated one more run in the sixth inning on a double by Schoop that knocked in Davis, but their bats were quiet after that. Brian Matusz replaced Gonzalez after the seventh and pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts to end the game.
The Yankees also won tonight, which means that the O's magic number goes down by only one, to 23.