The sweep streak was almost destroyed by bats that couldn’t make solid contact.
The Orioles found other ways to avoid a loss. Some small ball, a slump reprieve and a painful plate appearance.
Twins reliever Jhoan Duran hit Jordan Westburg with two outs in the eighth inning after loading the bases, breaking a tie but no bones. The bullpen tossed four scoreless and the Orioles rallied for a 2-1 win before an announced crowd of 16,299 at Camden Yards.
Sonny Gray held the Orioles to two hits in six scoreless innings and the Twins led 1-0 going into the eighth.
Adley Rutschman reached on a tapper near the mound with one out, and Anthony Santander won a nine-pitch battle with a single into center field. Aaron Hicks tied the game with a single into center on a 102.6 mph fastball, becoming a hero in a game he was watching from the bench.
Austin Hays collided with Twins first baseman Donavan Solano in the second inning and was removed two innings later with a left hip contusion. Solano was led into Hays’ path trying to catch third baseman José Miranda’s throw.
Solano appeared to absorb the brunt of it, staying down while Hays walked back to the dugout. Hays had wrapped his arms around Miranda to soften the blow, but he's day-to-day.
Hicks replaced Hays in left field and was 0-for-2 today and 2-for-26 in his last nine games before his RBI single.
"A noon game, probably wasn't expecting to go in when he did, kind of jumped him on it, and handled it like a total pro and got a big hit for us late," said manager Brandon Hyde.
Hicks produced his 12th career game-tying plate appearance in the eighth inning or later and first since July 29, 2022 against the Royals.
"Wasn't starting today, and then I had an opportunity to get three at-bats and was able to get a big RBI for us to tie the game and put some pressure on their closer," he said.
"I feel like we've been hitting balls hard and then just not getting results, and we were struggling to score runs. Sometimes you need to scratch out wins like this to get you going, and that's what the hope is."
Solano made a diving stop along the first base line to rob Cedric Mullins as the runners advanced. Pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn, in a 2-for-26 slump, got ahead 3-0 and was walked intentionally, and Duran drilled Westburg with a 101.3 mph fastball.
The ball hit Westburg on the back of his left hand and flew into the stands. He stayed in the game after Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel checked on him while he crouched at first base, but he'll undergo X-rays.
"Sore right now," Hyde said. "We're going to do some imaging and see how it is, but Brian did quite a few tests out there on the field. It could be adrenaline, who knows, but he felt like he could stay in the game and felt OK. But to take (101.3) off the hand, that's a pretty tough kid."
Not the way a rookie wants his first go-ahead RBI.
"I'm sure he'll take it," Hyde said, "but a Duran handball is not too fun."
Westburg had his hand wrapped in ice afterward. He took one for the team.
"Yeah, definition of it for sure," he said. "Anything for a win. I'm feeling all right right now.
"My hope going into the at-bat was to do anything to get that run across and help the team get a win, and if I've got to take a hit by pitch, that's fine."
Westburg sounded optimistic about avoiding a serious injury.
"I'm pretty confident that I'll be OK," he said.
Bryan Baker retired all six batters he faced, Cionel Pérez retired the side in order in the eighth and closer Félix Bautista struck out the side in the ninth for his 22nd save.
"When I give Bake proper rest," Hyde said, "that's usually what it looks like."
The Orioles haven’t been swept in a multi-game series since May 13-15, 2022. They ended a four-game losing streak and concluded their final homestand before the break with a 49-33 record.
Santander singled on a 98.5 mph splitter after fouling off fastballs at 100.8 and 102.6.
"I going to nominate Santander's at-bat as the at-bat of the year so far," Hyde said. "Duran's stuff is absolutely next level, and for him to be able to waste pitches and take good swings throughout the at-bat, and to get the hit in that spot with Adley running on the pitch, that as an incredible at-bat by him."
The offense was stagnant most of the series. The Orioles totaled three runs and 12 hits in three games.
Today’s game was scoreless until the fifth, when Willi Castro doubled with two outs to score Byron Buxton. A changeup was driven to the fence in left-center field, 410 feet away.
The Twins left eight runners on base through the fifth.
Cole Irvin allowed one run and six hits in five innings, with three walks and a strikeout. He threw 82 pitches.
"Cole did his job," Hyde said. "Just gave up that one run, pitched to contact. One run in five innings. That was outstanding for us.
"We're going to need starting pitching in the second half. It's just the way it goes. We're going to need all these guys to pitch well. Some of these guys are getting up there in innings and there's going to be a lot of innings to have in the rotation. Be huge if Cole could be a big part of that."
Mullins saved Irvin in the first inning with a leaping catch at the warning track to rob Buxton with Solano at first base and one out. A single and walk loaded the bases before Ryan Jeffers struck out.
Jeffers reached on an infield hit leading off the fourth and was erased on a double play. Michael A. Taylor doubled, Alex Kirilloff walked and Carlos Correa popped up.
"It was a little sweaty," Irvin said. "I didn't have my stuff, but that's just because I couldn't feel the ball. I didn't have much grip because of the sweat. It was real humid. But all in all, it was a real grinder of a start, and felt good about the end result, keeping the team in it."
Gray retired the first eight batters, gave up an opposite-field single to Anthony Bemboom, walked Gunnar Henderson and retired the next four.
Ramón Urías led off the fifth with a double and Jorge Mateo walked with one out. Correa ran down Bemboom’s popup with his back to the infield, Gray hit Henderson to load the bases, and Rutschman flied to center on the first pitch.
Another opportunity came in the sixth, when Gray walked Santander leading off the inning. He struck out the next two batters, with Santander stealing second base, and Urías flied to center.
Plate umpire Mike Estabrook called a third strike on Mullins on a sweeper that missed outside. Mullins disputed it on his way back to the dugout.
The mood of an entire team shifted in the eighth.
"Runs have been a little tough to come by the last couple days," Hyde said, "and sometimes it just starts with a swinging bunt single, which is how it started."
"This is a team that's definitely going to grind things out," Hicks said, "and those are teams that are hard to beat, teams that are going to fight for every run and try to come back and show that they're not going to give up."
"This is a grinder of a win," Irvin said. "I think we needed that going into a four-game series in New York."
* Here are the starters for the series in the Bronx:
Monday: RHP Tyler Wells (6-4, 3.21 ERA) vs. RHP Domingo Germán (5-5, 4.54 ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Kyle Gibson (8-5, 4.66 ERA) vs. RHP Clarke Schmidt (3-6, 4.37 ERA)
Wednesday: RHP Dean Kremer (8-4, 5.04 ERA) vs. TBA
Thursday: RHP Kyle Bradish (4-4, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Severino (1-3, 6.30 ERA)