For the second time in five games, the Orioles posted a 9-1 win last night. They have certainly bounced back well from the Cubs series, where they were swept three straight and scored four total runs.
In five games since then, they are 4-1, outscoring their opponents 28-11.
Chris Davis hit a grand slam, Delmon Young hit a disputed two-run homer and Steve Pearce got hurt. With all of that happening, it was easy to overlook Miguel Gonzalez.
But there he was pitching well again for the Orioles. Recently optioned to the minors and then recalled, Gonzalez showed again last night what he can do in the majors.
He was in control from the start against a decent-hitting Twins team, one that ranked fifth in the American League in runs scored coming into this series. They had scored 20 more runs than the first-place Orioles.
But Gonzalez needed just 34 pitches to pitch the first three innings and only 50 to get through four. He fanned four of the first 13 batters he faced and lost his shutout in the top of the seventh when Trevor Plouffe homered.
Catcher Caleb Joseph said it was just a sharp and crisp outing for Gonzalez.
“He had pinpoint location,” Joseph said. “He was great tonight, fun to catch. Didn’t really have to move the mitt very much. We had a good gameplan and stuck with it. He did a great job locating all his pitches, mixing it up and keeping the hitters off balance.
“Much needed. In some recent outings, we taxed the bullpen a little bit. It was good for him to go deep into that game.”
So what was it like to catch a pitcher throwing that well?
“It’s fun. You feel like you’re playing a video game. Put the target somewhere and he hits it. Those are the kind of outings we need out of Miguel to further our chances down the line the rest of the season,” Joseph added.
Over his past three starts, Gonzalez has an ERA of 1.86 in 19 1/3 innings.
He has given up two earned runs or less in seven of his past eight outings, going 3-2 with an ERA of 2.33. Gonzalez has seven quality starts in that stretch and has given up a batting average of just .222.
Meanwhile, the Orioles bullpen added two more scoreless innings last night when Brian Matusz finished the game pitching the eighth and ninth.
In the last six games, the O’s ‘pen has recorded 18 consecutive scoreless innings while giving up just six hits. Over the last 16 games, the bullpen ERA is 1.14.
Matusz has pitched to a 1.13 ERA with three walks and 22 strikeouts over his last 19 appearances since July 3. He has not allowed a run at Camden Yards since June 29, spanning eight outings and 8 1/3 innings.
Davis homered for the third time in five games. He has just three hits in that stretch and they are all homers. Davis has hit seven homers this month, his most in any month of the 2014 season.
Tonight the Orioles host Minnesota in game two of this series and game six of an 11-game homestand.
Chris Tillman gets the start for the Orioles. The right-hander is 11-5 with a 3.41 ERA. Tillman has given up three earned runs or less for 15 consecutive starts since June 10. In that time he is 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA and 13 quality starts.
Tillman’s 15-game streak is the longest by an O’s starter since Tom Phoebus recorded 16 straight from Sept. 23, 1969 to July 19, 1970.