It was one of those nights when the O’s offensive was clicking, the starting pitching was solid, and the bullpen held on enough to preserve the lead. The result was a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards that signaled the end of the O’s prolonged losing streak.
Even though he didn’t get through the sixth inning, O’s starter Bruce Zimmermann pitched well. He struck out the first two batters of the game and was one pitch away from striking out the side, but no. 3 hitter Nelson Cruz took a full-count changeup that was just a bit too low. Cruz entered play with a .321/.357/.528 batting line against left-handed pitchers in 2021. He was left stranded on first after a popup in foul territory to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.
On the other side, Twins starter Michael ‘Big Mike’ Pineda didn’t have it tonight. He left way too many pitches hanging around the middle of the plate, and he paid for it.
O’s leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins, who entered play with a .296/.321/.444 slash line in the past seven days, took Pineda’s second pitch of the game off the wall in right-center for a standup triple.
After a long injury delay for Twins catcher Mitch Garver, who took a foul ball to the groin area and left the game, Trey Mancini hit a screaming line drive that nearly took out Pineda. It screeched past second baseman Jorge Polanco, even though he was positioned up the middle in the shift, and drove Mullins home to give the O’s a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota tied the game in the third with a solo home run off the bat of Kyle Garlick. Although Zimmermann recorded the first two outs of the inning quickly, his 2-2 changeup to Garlick caught too much of the plate and was redirected into the left-field seats. After a single by Josh Donaldson, Mullins made an incredible play with a sliding, backhanded catch on the warning track and into the wall in right-center.
His first time through the Twins batting order, Zimmermann allowed zero hits and just one walk. The second time through the order, Minnesota went 4-for-9 with three singles and a home run.
The Birds went back to a familiar formula on offense in the home half of the third, as Mullins served as the catalyst once again. He lined a one-out single to right and then stole second base before Mancini brought him home with a loud line-drive single to right. Santander then singled to right as the O’s kept making loud contact.
Galvis got in on the action with a single down the left-field line to score Mancini. Stewart pitched in with an RBI groundout to short and Mountcastle followed with an RBI ground-rule double. It took Pineda 31 pitches to get through the inning and with the game one-third of the way over, the O’s were ahead 5-1.
Minnesota brought right-hander Luke Farrell in from the bullpen to begin the fourth and he was greeted rudely by Pedro Severino, who demolished a slider that appeared to reach one of the vomitories in the left-field stands. 6-1, Orioles.
After getting into a little trouble in the fifth, Zimmermann showed poise under pressure. With runners on the corners, the left-hander registered his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game to close out the inning.
Zimmermann’s third time through the batting order, the Twins went 2-for-5 with two doubles and a walk. The damage came in the sixth inning, when the Twins scored their second run and drove Zimmermann from the game with runners on first and second and one out.
Dillon Tate entered from the bullpen and induced a potential double play groundball to short that resulted in just a force out. Stevie Wilkerson received the throw from Galvis at second but bobbled the ball on his glove-to-hand transfer. But Wilkerson made up for it on the next play, ranging far to his right for a groundball and making an acrobatic throw across his chest to second. 6-2, Orioles.
Maikel Franco joined the hit parade in the sixth with a solo home run that landed in the seats next to the Orioles bullpen. 7-2, Orioles. Hopefilly that’s a sign that Franco is breaking out of his slump. He entered the game with only six hits in his past 27 at-bats.
In the seventh inning, the Twins touched the O’s for their third run with a bases loaded RBI single by Alex Kirilloff. Tanner Scott surrendered the hit in relief of Tate, who was responsible for the runners on base due to a pair of walks and a hit batter. 7-3, O’s.
Scott struck out Miguel Sano to start the eighth before giving way to Cesar Valdez, who allowed a solo home run to Willians Astudillo and then a single to Andrelton Simmons. The Birds caught a break when Simmons was tagged out in a rundown between first and second, and Valdez closed the inning with a strikeout.
The Twins gave Cole Sulser some trouble when he came on for the save opportunity in the ninth. After a long fly ball resulted in out no. 1, Nelson Cruz walked and Trevor Larnach doubled to right. But Sulser rebounded with a strikeout and another fly ball out to earn his first save of the season. Hallelujah, the losing streak is over!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for June 1, 2021?
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Cedric Mullins (2-for-4, 2 R, SB)
Trey Mancini (2-for-3, R, BB, 2 RBI)
Bruce Zimmermann, WP (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 1 HR)
Pedro Severino (1-for-3, including a solo home run)
Ryan Mountcastle (2-for-4, RBI)