O's game blog: Looking to bounce back in Minnesota

After a game where O's pitching allowed three hits through eight innings and retired 21 batters in a row, two reached to start the last of the ninth and the Orioles lost 3-2 at Minnesota on Friday night.

Closer Jorge López, who had recorded nine straight saves and had not allowed a homer all year, gave up a two-run, walk-off homer to Byron Buxton in the Minnesota win. Luis Arraez led off the ninth with a nine-pitch single to center to set the stage for Buxton to hit his 21st homer of the year to end the game.

The Twins (44-36), leading the AL Central by 1 1/2 games over Cleveland and by 5 1/2 over the Chicago White Sox, improved to 12-9 against AL East teams and 24-17 at home. The Twins have the fourth-most home wins in the AL and tied for fifth-most in baseball. They had lost their past two games via walk-off defeats.

Right-hander Joe Ryan, last night's Twins starter, allowed just two hits and one run over seven innings on 89 pitches. He threw his four-seamer 61 percent of the time at an average velocity of 92 mph, topping at 94.

Minnesota starting pitchers have combined to go 6-2, 2.05 ERA (79.0 IP, 18 ER) with 15 walks, 55 strikeouts, a .201 opponent batting average and eight quality starts in their last 14 games.

O's starter Spenser Watkins gave his club a strong outing and a quality start. Over six innings he gave up three hits and one run with one walk and five strikeouts on 79 pitches. Watkins tied his career high throwing six innings. Over his past two starts against the White Sox and Twins, he has allowed one earned run over 11 innings. 

In the last 11 games, O's starting pitchers have an ERA of 1.62. They have thrown 55 2/3 innings in that span allowing 10 earned runs and just home runs with 17 walks to 42 strikeouts.

After splitting the four-game series at Oriole Park from May 2-5, Baltimore needs two wins to secure their first season series victory over Minnesota since 2016 (5-1). The Orioles are looking to snap an 11-game losing streak at Target Field since July 5, 2018 and their last win in Minnesota was an 11-5 victory on July 9, 2017.

Orioles outfielders rank tied for third in MLB with 18 outfield assists. The O's have three outfielders in the top 10 in the AL in outfield assists: Austin Hays (T-2nd, 7), Cedric Mullins (T-4th, 5), and Ryan McKenna (T-6th, 4). Among MLB outfielders, Hays (T-2nd) and Mullins (T-7th) rank in the top 10 in outfield assists, while McKenna ranks tied for 14th. Entering play today, the Orioles are the only team in the AL with three outfielders with at least four outfield assists each; the only other MLB team with that many is the Chicago Cubs.

O's center fielder Cedric Mullins is hitting .409/.458/.750 (18-for-44) with three doubles, four home runs, and a 1.208 OPS in the third inning this season. That marks the highest third-inning batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS in MLB, as well as the most hits (min. 40 AB). He is hitting .233 (61-for-262) in all other innings combined.

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