The Orioles took the field in Minnesota on Friday night in an attempt to even up the series, something they couldn’t get done despite a hot start. Below, the details of another frustrating road loss for Buck Showalter’s team.
Felix Jorge, the Twins starter making his second career outing in the big-leagues, was greeted rather abruptly by the top of the Orioles lineup in this one. After earning a win in his major league debut against the Royals last week, Jorge allowed two runs in his first five pitches on this Friday night.
His first mistake was made against Seth Smith on an 0-2 count to start the game, as he left a fastball up in zone that got out of the park in a hurry. Smith’s solo shot to straight-away centerfield put the O’s on the board first and was quickly followed by Manny Machado producing an identical result just two pitches later.
Machado took another Jorge fastball and didn’t miss it, lacing the pitch over the wall in left field for his 17th big fly of the year. Before everyone could get settled in, it was 2-0 Birds as Kevin Gausman took the hill.
The O’s right-hander seemed to have his best stuff working early. With the help of stout defense and strikeouts, Gausman cruised in the first couple of innings innings against the Minnesota lineup as he racked up the swings and misses early and often. He would’ve allowed a run in the bottom of the second on a hit from Kennys Vargas, but as the Twins first baseman attempted to advance to second, he over-slid the base and was tagged out by Jonathan Schoop.
The top of third presented Machado with an opportunity to do more damage against Jorge, one he’d take advantage of to break this one open early.
With two men on after Ruben Tejada’s walk and Smith’s hard-hit single, Machado put a charge into a 1-0 changeup that got out of the park in a hurry. It only made it about a row deep, but it was good enough to plate a trio of runs and advance the Orioles lead to 5-0. Needless to say, Jorge didn’t ever quite settle in during his debut at Target Field.
Later in the third, it was Trey Mancini who drove in the team’s sixth run and ultimately ran Jorge from the ballgame. Following Mark Trumbo’s double, a Mancini single was the seventh hit of the game for the Orioles, part of quite the productive start for the visiting Birds. Trevor Hildenberger got the final out and limited the damage, but not before the scoreboard showed 6-0 after just two and a half innings.
The Twins put a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning, though it had the potential to be a disastrous frame for Gausman and the O’s. He faced a bases loaded situation with only one out, allowed a single and hit a batter to give the Twins their first runs of the night. However despite boosting his pitch count to 86, Gausman wrapped up the frame with a healthy lead still in tact.
Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton went down on strikes — both swinging — to send Gausman back to the dugout frustrated but still on track to qualify for the win... that is, until the Twins returned to the dish in the fifth.
Gausman still had the velocity as he approached 100 pitches, but there wasn’t much luck stacked in his favor as his outing reached its end. Brian Dozier tripled on a great 1-2 pitch, Machado and Mancini couldn’t connect on a relatively routine ground ball and following a Max Kepler single, the night would quickly come to a close for Gausman with the lead cut to 6-4.
The two runners that he left on base would score after Miguel Castro entered the game, uglying up Gausman’s final line — 4+ IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
That, of course, is the Orioles 2017 season in a nutshell.
Castro finished the inning, though not before allowing a run of his own. Chris Gimenez drove in Vargas — whose two-RBI double tied the game — and gave Minnesota the lead in a wild (but not totally unpredictable) inning for the Orioles. Five runs later, it was 7-6 Twins.
From there, everything seemed to shift in such a way that the Orioles couldn’t win no matter the situation. In the sixth, Tejada and Smith failed to drive in the tying run with runners at second and third. In the seventh, Machado missed another HR by a few feet and didn’t run out of the box, causing the inning to end quickly via the double play. Once Minnesota took the lead, it truly felt nothing could be done to re-gain it.
Zach Britton allowed two runs in the eighth inning, but the quiet Orioles bats were at the heart of this Friday night’s storyline. Following the fireworks in the third inning, there was no life in the lineup’s bats when it was needed most.
Britton’s inning showcased the rust he’s still attempting to shake off — and although he didn’t receive much help from his defense, it’s clear he’s still far from his best.
Minnesota went to the ninth inning up 9-6 and held on, wrapping things up quickly to send the Orioles to six games under .500 at 40-46.
The Orioles and Twins will battle tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. ET. Wade Miley is set to take the hill against Adalberto Mejia.