The weather forecast for Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon showed that there would be a lot of rain. Before the game began, there were doubts that the Orioles and Twins would even be able to play nine innings. As it ended up, it did rain on Target Field. It rained home runs. And also rain. The Orioles emerged victorious, 9-2.
This was not an especially surprising outcome. The Orioles hit a lot of home runs - 45 in 31 games, most in the American League. Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes has always given up a lot of home runs. There is an obvious outcome here. That's not to say the Orioles always achieve that obvious outcome. Today they did, hitting four home runs on the way to their victory.
With the win, the Orioles are now eight games over .500, which is a new high point for their 2016 season. They also never reached eight games above .500 for the entirety of last season. These are not last year's Orioles. Another key demonstration of that is that last year's Orioles never beat the Twins. This year's Orioles haven't lost to the Twins in five tries.
Let's talk about dongs
It doesn't matter if it's cold and wet. It doesn't matter what way the wind is blowing or how big your stadium is. When the Orioles come to town, they're going to hit home runs. There's no stopping them. The only question is how many there will be, and how many runners will be on base when they give up the home runs.
They didn't wait long to start the party against Hughes. The second inning saw Chris Davis lead off with a single, his first of four hits on the day. Certified strong mammal Mark Trumbo came up next and he punished Hughes, blasting a home run an estimated 427 feet - his fifth 425+ foot blast of the season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. That's tied for second most in MLB.
It was, as Orioles radio broadcaster Joe Angel exclaimed jubilantly, a "Trumbo Jumbo" - his tenth of the year.
Two innings later, Adam Jones led off the fourth inning with a single, one of four hits for him also on the day. Then it was Davis' turn to wallop a home run off Hughes, which he did. Just for good measure, Trumbo followed Davis by hitting yet another home run. There is no bad time for back-to-back home runs. This second one went a mere 398 feet. He wasn't even trying that hard.
Now with 11 home runs, Trumbo is tied for second in the AL, and he's first in multi-homer games with three. When he's having a good day, he's really having a good day.
That was all the O's got against Hughes, who took a full Tommy Hunter (five runs, all earned) over four innings of work. Hughes now has a 6.44 ERA on the year. That's the guy you're supposed to beat and they did.
They waited until the ninth inning to get another home run. The last one, and in some ways the most exciting, came off the bat of Jones, his second in as many games. With the four hit day, Jones raised his batting average to .238. What if he really is back?
With Davis hitting his ninth home run, the Orioles now have three players with 9+ home runs. Heading into today, the Atlanta Braves as a team do not even have nine home runs. Davis even came close to a second home run, later hitting an RBI double that was really only not a home run because of weird Target Field ground rules. He'll take the double too.
Sound the seven inning start alarm
As a general rule this year, Orioles starters have not been going deep into games. That trend has been bucked recently, however. As MASN's Steve Melewski noted, with a seven inning start from Tyler Wilson today, it's the fourth time the O's have had their starter do that in the last eight games.
Sure, it's just the Twins for Wilson today, but who cares? You can only play who they put in front of you. And Wilson pitched exactly how you'd like to see a guy pitch, especially after he's staked with a sizable lead thanks to his offense's penchant for hitting homers.
Wilson wasn't perfect, but he didn't have to be. He scattered six hits and didn't waste a lot of time nibbling. Over seven innings, he issued only a single walk, and when he was finally pulled from the game, he'd thrown 95 pitches. Lifting Wilson was more a function of wanting to make sure a couple of relievers could get some work rather than Wilson having run out of gas.
One of the hits that Wilson gave up was a second inning home run to birthday boy Miguel Sano. Nice to give a guy a present like that on his birthday. At the time, that brought the score to a 2-1 margin. The Twins would never be so close again, although they did threaten.
By the fifth inning, the Orioles lead was up to 5-1. The Twins got a second run by combining an Eddie Rosario double with a Danny Santana single. Santana easily stole second base. This was when Wilson issued his lone walk, to Joe Mauer, maybe the best Twins hitter. Not a bad guy to walk.
The tying run came to the plate in the form of serial helmet-loser Eduardo Nunez. No big deal. Wilson got Nunez to bounce into a double play, 6-4-3, Manny Machado to Jonathan Schoop to Davis, all of them making it look easy as you please.
Wilson was followed by Mychal Givens, who gave up two hits but no runs in the eighth inning. Even Brian Matusz only allowed one walk as he pitched a scoreless ninth, lowering his season ERA to 8.31.
Maybe the Twins are bad and maybe the two wins don't really tell us much about how good the Orioles are, either on offense or in the starting rotation. It's still two wins they don't have to give back.
The win ensures that the O's remain atop the American League East for at least one more day. The team that's neck-and-neck with them, the Red Sox, will be in action later on this evening against the Athletics. Stink mightily, Rick Porcello. You know you want to.
Next up for the O's is a trip back to Baltimore. They'll be in action tomorrow night against the Tigers for the first of a four game series. Mike Pelfrey is set to pitch the 7:05 opener for Detroit, with Ubaldo Jimenez in action for the Orioles.