It was not a good night to be an Orioles fan. Or a good day, for that matter. The Birds lost both ends of the doubleheader to the Twins, the second one in rather lopsided fashion.
Alex Cobb made his return from the injured list in game two of the twin bill at Camden Yards and Minnesota didn’t waste any time welcoming him back to the Show. And like most games so far this season, the Birds were victimized by the long ball.
After a strikeout to start the game, Marwin Gonzalez scorched a single up the middle and former Oriole Nelson Cruz followed with a blast to the left field seats, giving the Twins a quick lead before the O’s even got to bat. Then with two outs, C.J. Cron came to the plate and launched a solo shot to left, lengthening the Twins lead to three runs.
Minnesota struck again in the second, upping their lead to four on a pair of doubles. Former Oriole Jonathan Schoop started the inning off with a double to right center field that just eluded the outstretched glove of a sprinting Trey Mancini. Cobb then retired the next two batters, but Mitch Garver laced a double to left field with two outs, scoring Schoop from third.
In the third, Eddie Rosario tattooed a two-run homer to dead center field following Cruz’s lead-off double. After an RBI double by Byron Buxton with two outs, O’s manager Brandon Hyde made the long walk from the dugout to switch pitchers.
It was a brutal return to the mound for Cobb. His ‘splitty’, as announcer Mike Bordick called it (ad nauseam), wasn’t fooling anyone. The right-hander allowed an astonishing 10 hits through 2.2 innings.
Mike Wright came on to put out the fire but just added gasoline to the blaze, promptly allowing a three-run home run to Garver. Two of those runs were credited to Cobb, leaving his earned run total for the night at nine. Oriole pitchers allowed four home runs through the first three innings.
Minnesota’s Martin Perez, on the other hand, was cruising through three innings with a pitch count of 33 up to that point.
Wright gave up his second three-run homer of the night in the fourth, to Schoop, putting the Twins’ tally at 13 runs. But despite these transgressions, Hyde seemed resigned to keep Wright in the game to eat up innings in an attempt to save at least a bit of the bullpen for the series finale on Sunday.
The O’s finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Renato Nunez hit a two-run home run to left. But with a deficit as large as the one tonight, it was just a drop in the the bucket.
The fifth was the first inning all game in which the Twins didn’t score a run. Wright was the Orioles’ pitcher who threw the first scoreless frame, and he also pitched a scoreless sixth, leaving his line on the night at 3.1 innings, five hits, four earned runs (including two home runs) and two strikeouts.
Baltimore struck again in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run home run to left by Hanser Alberto, which was the first of his MLB career. Before the sixth inning, the 26-year-old had gone 226 at-bats without a round-tripper — 182 at-bats with Texas and 44 with the O’s.
Another highlight on an otherwise macabre evening was the debut of 27-year-old right-hander Branden Kline. Well, his first inning at least. He needed only 13 pitches to retire the Twins in order in the seventh while topping out at 98 mph with his fastball.
Kline returned to the mound for the eighth, but it did not go as well as the previous inning. The Twins’ Garver delivered a welcome to the big leagues moment, hitting a solo home run to the seats in left. It was Garver’s second home run of the game. Two batters later, Cruz hit a homer to center field, also his second of the game.
The Birds scored a trio of runs in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI groundout by Pedro Severino, a passed ball by Twins pitcher Fernando Romero and a Renato Nunez solo home run (his second of the game).
Then, lo and behold, Chris Davis came out to pitch the ninth, bringing back memories of his triumphant appearance on the mound in Boston years ago. After a groundout to start the inning, Schoop launched the first pitch he saw into the visitor’s bullpen as Davis tried to hide a smile. The first baseman/pitcher then induced a strikeout, a double and a lineout.
The Twins ended the night with 16 runs on 19 hits. Every batter in Minnesota’s lineup had at least one hit, except for shortstop Ehire Adrianza. The O’s regular pitchers gave up seven home runs, including three by Cobb, two by Wright and two by Kline. They actually gave up eight home runs, counting the one allowed by Davis in the ninth.
The Orioles will limp into the series finale tomorrow hoping to limit the long ball and avoid a sweep. Right-hander Dylan Bundy will have the chance to play stopper for the Birds.