Here we are: the last series before the All-Star Break. For O’s fans, you may also know “the All-Star Break” as “four consecutive days where the Orioles cannot lose a game.” Tonight marked the first of four games against the next team in line to take a shot at the Birds: the Twins.
The Twins are some sort of Freaky Friday version of the Orioles, as they’re 25-15 on the road for the season (the O’s are 25-16 at home), and now 19-26 at home (the O’s are now 15-29 on the road). When these two teams meet, something’s gotta give to buck the trends.
Earlier this year, the Orioles welcomed the Twins in to Camden Yards and the Twinkies thanked them rudely with a three-game sweep. This series at Target Field started with more of the same.
The Twins starting pitcher would be the very good, but recently struggling José Berríos. Berríos bounced back just fine tonight to the tune of 6.0IP, 7H, 3ER, 0BB, 4SO.
Berríos opened the game with a 1-2-3 frame in the first in which he showcased a nasty breaking ball to K Orioles lone All Star, Jonathan Schoop.
Dylan Bundy is the leader of this Orioles rotation, but that designation is about analogous to saying he’s the pilot of The Hindenburg. Coming in, he had allowed 18 runs in his last 20.1 innings pitched. That is not a small hiccup. That is a rather large, very-concerning-in-length-hiccup.
Tonight, he upped that total to 24 runs allowed over his last 25.1 innings.
Everything is on fire.
Bundy actually opened the game looking great, with his own 1-2-3 first frame on the back of two Ks. He showcased some really nice looking pitches before he ran out of fuel way too early. Take the small (and I mean minuscule) victories right now, folks.
In the second, Berríos was let down by his defense. Adam Jones hit a routine ball to third baseman, Eduardo Escobar, but “first baseman,” Miguel Sano, just straight-up dropped the throw. It hit his glove and just dropped to the ground.
Out of sheer disgust at the play, Berríos chucked the ball straight to the backstop, and Adam Jones (somehow just barely) advanced to second base. Mark Trumbo thought the whole thing was funny, and he smashed a pitch out of the ballpark in some sort of barbarous show of amusement. 2-0 Orioles.
Dylan Bundy allowed a single in the bottom of the second, but otherwise acquitted himself rather nicely to follow his team posting a couple of runs. It was strange, and I’m still not quite sure that I believe it happened.
In the top of the third, with two down, Manny Machado went and got himself a birthday single. His buddy, Jonathan Schoop, followed suit, and then Berríos threw a pitch at Adam Jones rather than to him. With the bases then-loaded, Mark Trumbo grounded out, and a scoring chance was squandered.
The Orioles instantly regretted not taking advantage of their half of the third, as Dylan Bundy hit Jason Castro to lead off the bottom of the inning.
A single, a strikeout, a fielder’s choice (that didn’t record an out), a single, a single, a triple, a walk, a walk, a fielder’s choice (that did record an out), a stolen base, and a line out later, the Twins had hung a six-spot in their half of the inning. This is probably when you turned the game off, if you were ever watching at all.
Between a Trey Mancini double, a Hyun Soo Kim single, and a Paul Janish ground out in the top of the fourth, the O’s actually recouped a run. It didn’t fool anyone into thinking a comeback was in the works, but it did pull the O’s to within three runs at the time.
The teams traded zeroes in the bottom of the fourth, top of the fifth, and bottom of the fifth before the Orioles offense showed more signs of life in the sixth.
Trey Mancini doubled to lead off the inning, and Beef moved him to third on a fielder’s choice (nicely fielded by Twins SS, Jorge Polanco). Kim plated him on a sac fly, and the O’s were suddenly within two runs. Maybe tonight would just be a normal loss rather than a complete embarrassment.
Richard Bleier came into the game in favor of Bundy to start the Twins sixth. That sealed Bundy’s final line at a disappointing 5.0IP, 5H, 6ER, 2BB, 4SO. Bleier has sort of silently been a big bright spot in the O’s bullpen, now with a 1.69 ERA in 26.2IP. He gave up a couple of base knocks to the Twins, but kept them off the board in the sixth.
In fact, the entire bullpen looked nice tonight, with Bleier, Givens, Hart, and O’Day combining for three scoreless innings. It just would have been nice if this had happened with a lead rather than a deficit. C’est la vie.
The Orioles loaded the bases against Tyler Duffey with two down in the seventh, but couldn’t cash-in, even with Trey Mancini at the plate. Trey can’t do it all. That’s the closest they would come to scoring again in the game despite base runners in the eighth and ninth as well.
There was a really neat moment in the bottom of the eighth when after Johnny Giavotella pinch hit for Paul Janish, he stayed in the game at second, and Jonathan Schoop logged his first Major League inning at SS. Watching him and Manny talk and smile about it almost made this game okay.
Tomorrow Kevin Gausman looks to build on his recent two-game renaissance. Good luck, Kevin. Us fans need something to hope on right now.