O's game blog: Looking for a series win in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – The Orioles didn't have a huge night on offense or produce some record-setting numbers last night. They used old school pitching and defense to win.

Cedric Mullins made a great catch in center to rob a three-run homer and that helped lefty Cole Irvin continue to turn his season around with 6 1/3 innings allowing one run last night. When the Orioles broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run top of the 10th, it was enough to beat the first-place Twins 3-1 in the series opener at Target Field.

The Orioles are 52-35 and moved within three games of first in the American League East as the Braves beat the Rays, handing Tampa Bay a sixth straight loss. The Orioles are now 26-17 on the road and 3-2 on this road trip. They are 4-3 in July, 5-5 in extra-inning games and 19-10 in series-opening games.

One more win in this series and the Orioles will be 17-9-3 in their series before the All-Star Game.

Minnesota (45-44) had won five of its past six games as the series began. The Twins fell to 26-20 at home, to 14-15 in series openers and 8-4 in extra-inning games.

Jordan Westburg went 1-for-4 with a single on Friday night and is batting .314 in his first 10 major league games. He has hit safely his past four games, going 6-for-16 (.375).

Mullins drove in the game's first run with a sac fly in the sixth inning. It was his 44th RBI and second sac fly of the year.

Aaron Hicks drove in a run with a sac fly in the 10th as a pinch-hitter. Hicks was originally drafted by the Twins in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He is making his second trip to Target Field this year to play his former club. The first was with the Yankees at the end of April.

Today right-hander Tyler Wells (6-4, 3.19 ERA) will make his 17th start for the Orioles and face the team that drafted him in Round 15 of the 2016 draft. The Orioles selected Wells from the Twins organization via the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 10, 2020.

In two career starts versus his former club, Wells is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, allowing a .212 batting average and .491 OPS.

Monday against the Yankees, Wells gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, throwing 86 pitches. The Orioles are 9-7 in his starts.

Wells is a pitcher on a good roll right now, allowing two earned runs or less for seven straight starts. In that span, since May 29, he has five quality starts, going 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA. He allowed a .204 batting average and .678 OPS in those seven outings.

For his season, Wells, who ranks ninth in the AL in ERA and is the major league leader in WHIP, has given up two earned runs or less 11 times. He has thrown seven quality starts, including in four of his past five games.

The Twins today start right-hander Sonny Gray (4-2, 2.50 ERA) who will make his 18th start. The team is 8-9 in the first 17. But Gray has done his part to win those games, allowing three earned runs or less in all 17 starts and two or fewer 12 times.

Gray has allowed just three homers in 93 2/3 innings on the season for a 0.3 homer rate. He did not allow a homer over his first 11 starts, covering 60 1/3 innings.

Gray pitched six scoreless on two hits versus the Orioles last Sunday in Baltimore, with three walks and seven strikeouts. In 13 career games against the Birds, he is 6-5 with a 4.19 ERA and .691 OPS against.

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