O's hammer six homers, sweep Minnesota, reach 54-35 at the break (updated)

Hays and Mullins

MINNEAPOLIS – A day that started out with the Orioles striking out often, ended with them pounding the Minnesota Twins 15-2 today behind a barrage of six homers, a few blasted well over 400 feet.

It was a nice way to say goodbye to the first half by saying goodbye to a few baseballs against the pitching staff that began today with the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.56 to Atlanta at 3.55.

The Orioles hit the break at 54-35 with a five-game win streak and they tie a season-high at moving to 19 games above the .500 mark.

The Orioles' .607 win percentage at the break is the eighth-best in team history at this point of the year.

The Orioles scored seven runs in the fifth inning to lead 8-1 and six in the sixth to make it a 14-1 blowout. The six homers are a season-high, doubling up any game this year save for one when they hit a previous season-high four on June 13 versus Toronto.

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O's game blog: Looking to end the first half with a three-game sweep of the Twins

Cedric Mullins home run robbery

MINNEAPOLIS – The Orioles have won their past four games by a combined 29-7 score. And, after a 3-1 win in 10 innings Friday and a 6-2 win on Saturday afternoon, the Orioles can complete a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins this afternoon at Target Field.

The Orioles won the last two games of their series at New York by a 20-4 score and carried that momentum into Minnesota. They are 53-35 for the season and have the American League’s best road record at 27-17. A win today would give them a 5-2 road trip and 54 wins heading into the All-Star break.

The Orioles have three sweeps of three games this season:

* At Detroit April 21-23
* At Toronto May 19-21
* Versus Kansas City June 9-11

Saturday’s win for Baltimore was marked by a six-run top of the second inning. It was a strange game in that the Orioles scored six runs on six hits in that inning, but had no runs and no hits in any other inning yesterday. They went 0-for-24 at-bat outside of the second inning versus Twins pitching.

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O's get on a roll, close first-place gap as first half is about to close

Tyler Wells throws orange away

MINNEAPOLIS - A four-game win streak by the Orioles as the first half is about to end today was a nice response to a 1-6 stretch. Where some feared they could get swept by the Yankees after losing Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx, they are 4-0 since and have outscored their opposition 29-7.

They've won a couple of close games, one in extra innings, gotten four games of clutch hits, had one resounding blowout and one comfortable win and otherwise showed a nice finishing kick. 

They are who you thought they were if you thought that was a solid playoff contender and one with one of MLB's best records. 

Some of Birdland's angst and panic by a few recently was unfounded.

And last night, Atlanta beat Tampa Bay 6-1, handing the Rays a seventh straight loss. The Orioles moved to within two games of first place and the O's and Rays both now have 35 losses. 

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Good start to the weekend: O's beat Twins 3-1 in 10 innings (updated)

Cedric Mullins home run robbery

MINNEAPOLIS – Cole Irvin was not “swirvin” this time. Irvin, who uses that nickname in his Twitter handle, was very much in balance and control tonight and he was setting down the Minnesota Twins with regularity.

His season ERA was 6.32 at game time, but his ERA since his latest return to the Orioles roster June 10 was 3.44 in five games. He gave up two runs in eight innings his last two starts, one rain interrupted. He had shown signs he was getting his act together.

Tonight, in front of 32,724 fans at Target Field in the opener of this three-game series, we saw more evidence.  

Irvin left with a lead but could not get a win tonight.

But the Orioles did.

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O's game blog: The series opener with Minnesota at Target Field

irvin orange opcy

MINNEAPOLIS – After a remarkable night in New York - and a 14-1 blowout win over the Yankees - the Orioles' suddenly resurgent offense is in for a real test this weekend. The O's open a series against the Minnesota Twins, a new hot team that leads MLB in team ERA. 

The Orioles went 15-for-26 at-bat last night in the first four innings and led 13-0 in the Bronx. By that point of the game, Gunnar Henderson and Ryan O'Hearn had already combined for nine RBIs. Henderson was 4-for-4 with two homers, three runs and five RBIs.

There have been three rookies to record 4+ hits and 5+ RBIs in a road game against the Yankees since RBIs became an official stat in 1920 – Don Wheeler in 1949, Maikel Franco in 2015 and yesterday.

The Orioles set season highs in runs and hits. The previous tops was 13 runs and 17 hits and they had 20 last night. 

Heading into Wednesday's game at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles had lost six of seven games. But now they have back-to-back wins by 6-3 and 14-1.

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

orioles running gray

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.

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Orioles and Twins lineups

Orioles and Twins lineups

MINNEAPOLIS – Trey Mancini returns to the Orioles lineup today at Target Field after pinch-hitting last night. He didn’t start due to a sore right hand that required a cortisone injection.

Mancini’s eight-game hitting streak ended last night with his ground ball.

Mancini is playing right field and Anthony Santander is in left. Austin Hays is the designated hitter.

Robinson Chirinos is catching in a day game following a night game. Adley Rutschman is on the bench.

Tyler Nevin starts at third base.

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Hyde ejected and Orioles tossed on Buxton walk-off home run (updated)

Hyde ejected and Orioles tossed on Buxton walk-off home run (updated)

MINNEAPOLIS – The Orioles had just tied tonight’s game in the top of the third inning on Cedric Mullins’ two-out double. Austin Hays lined out, Spenser Watkins began to warm and manager Brandon Hyde reached his boiling point.

Hyde was ejected from the game, his second this season and the eighth of his career. This one was hardly noticeable.

The dispute began after a strike call to Mullins on the first pitch of the at-bat, which the Orioles thought was high and prompted some barking from the bench.

Plate umpire Ramon De Jesus kept turning back to the dugout, and Hyde came onto the field after the inning. Hyde carried his argument from De Jesus to crew chief Alfonso Márquez, appearing to gesture that the Twins had a similar beef earlier in the game that went ignored.  

Hyde tried to go back to De Jesus, and Márquez pushed him with both hands toward the dugout. Hyde walked down the steps and raised a hand to calm catcher Robinson Chirinos.

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O's game blog: The series opener at Minnesota to wrap up road trip

Rutschman hit black

The Orioles have reached the final stop on a three-city road trip. They went 3-1 in Chicago against the White Sox and 1-2 in Seattle versus the Mariners. And tonight they begin a three-game weekend series in Minnesota. They are 4-3 on the trip and need one win to guarantee a .500 trip and two to post a wining road trip.

The Orioles (35-42) have the best record, for what it is worth, of any fifth-place team in the majors. They begin play tonight six games behind third-place Tampa Bay and 8 ½ games behind both Boston and Toronto, which are tied for second place in the American League East.

The Orioles completed June at 14-12 and begin a new month tonight in the series opener. In posting their first winning month since August of 2017 (17-12), they had a plus 17 run differential in June. In 26 games over the month, they averaged 4.77 runs per game, seventh in the AL and 12th in MLB. Baltimore's 3.86 ERA (97 ER/226.0 IP) in June ranked sixth in the AL and 12th in MLB. Its .538 winning percentage ranked sixth in the AL, behind the New York Yankees (.786, 22-6), Boston Red Sox (.769, 20-6), Cleveland Guardians (.643, 18-10), Houston Astros (.640, 16-9) and Seattle Mariners (.552, 16-13). O's relievers owned a 2.89 ERA (31 ER/96.2 IP) in June, the second-lowest in MLB last month, behind the New York Yankees with a 2.00 ERA (21 ER/94.1 IP) in 28 games. O's starters have posted a 2.18 ERA (16 ER/66.0 IP) in 13 games since June 16, the best team starting pitcher ERA in MLB over that span.

Even in losing the last two games in Seattle, the Orioles have won eight of 13 and 11 of 18 games. They are 13-10 their past 23 games and 21-18 since May 19. They went 14-16 in May, giving them a .500 record at 28-28 since May 1.

O’s pitchers have allowed only 20 runs the last eight games, 24 in 10 and 33 runs over the past 13 games. The club has allowed two runs or less in nine of those 13 games with a team ERA of 2.43 in that span.

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Orioles and Twins lineups

Watkins pitch white

MINNEAPOLIS – Trey Mancini is out of the Orioles’ lineup tonight for the second time in three games, as they visit the Twins on the final stop of their three-city road trip.

Mancini, who has an eight-game hitting streak, didn’t play Tuesday and the Orioles were off yesterday. He went 1-for-5 with a double on Wednesday.

Anthony Santander is the designated hitter tonight, with Ryan McKenna in left field and Austin Hays in right. Adley Rutschman is batting fifth.

Jonathan Araúz gets another start at third base.

Spenser Watkins has a 5.14 ERA and 1.629 WHIP in nine starts, but he allowed only an unearned run in five innings in Chicago. He faced the Twins on May 5 at Camden Yards and surrendered three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. Byron Buxton homered.

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Astros rally to eliminate Twins in wild card series, extending playoff losing streak

Astros rally to eliminate Twins in wild card series, extending playoff losing streak
The Twins won the American League Central by not losing two consecutive games at home during the season. Then everything changed when the postseason started. The Astros came to Target Field and added more history-making agony to the Twins' postseason record. After losing 4-1 and 3-1 to the Astros in the first two wild card games, the Twins extended their postseason losing streak to 18 consecutive games, more than any other National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, National...
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Some key points entering regular season's final week of play

Some key points entering regular season's final week of play
Baseball's final week of the regular season has arrived. Here's what we know: The Brewers haven't missed National League MVP candidate Christian Yelich: The Brewers are 10-2 since Yelich was sidelined with a knee injury. They are 17-4 during September, a repeat performance of last season when they won 20 games in the final month to make the postseason. The Brewers, who have the tiebreaker to get home field in case of a wild card tie with Washington, have scored 32 runs in their last four...
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Indians hope rotation depth will tilt balance their way in AL Central

Indians hope rotation depth will tilt balance their way in AL Central
The Indians have won three consecutive American League Central titles on cruise control. There wasn't a need to win a critical series in the final weeks. In 2016, Cleveland beat second-place Detroit by eight games. In 2017, the Indians beat the second-place Twins by 17 games. Last season, they finished 13 games ahead of the Twins. Any wonder then that Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger said the final weeks of the last three seasons have felt like glorified spring training games? No intensity...
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Opposite dugout: Twins' playoff chances look remote

Opposite dugout: Twins' playoff chances look remote
Manager: Paul Molitor (4th season) Record: 35-48 Last 10 games: 2-8 Who to watch: LF Eddie Rosario (.308 with 18 HR, 52 RBIs), SS Eduardo Escobar (50 RBIs, 34 doubles), 2B Brian Dozier (34 RBIs), RF Max Kepler (29 RBIs) RHP Kyle Gibson (3.48 ERA), RHP Fernando Rodney (17 saves) Season series vs. Orioles: 2-1 Pitching probables: July 5: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-8) vs. RHP Aaron Slegers (0-0), 8:10 p.m., MASN2July 6: RHP Dylan Bundy (6-7) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (5-7), 8:10 p.m., MASN2July 7: RHP Kevin...
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Opposite dugout: Twins out to prove 2017 wasn't an anomaly

Opposite dugout: Twins out to prove 2017 wasn't an anomaly
Manager: Paul Molitor (4th season) Record: 85-77 (2nd in AL Central in 2017; captured 2nd AL wild card) Last 10 games: Season opener Who to watch: 2B Brian Dozier (.271 average, 34 HR, 93 RBIs); 3B Miguel Sanó (.264 average, 28 HR, 77 RBIs); CF Byron Buxton (.253 average, 29 SB); RHP José Berríos (14-8, 3.89 ERA); RHP Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 ERA) Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (5-2 in 2017) Pitching probables: March 29: RHP Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy...
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Martinez updates status of Murphy and Glover

Martinez updates status of Murphy and Glover
The Nationals made roster moves prior to their 3-1 exhibition loss to the Twins Tuesday by moving right-hander Koda Glover (right shoulder tendinitis) to the 60-day disabled list. The team selected the contract of veteran catcher Miguel Montero and placed second baseman Daniel Murphy (microfracture right knee surgery) and right-hander Joaquin Benoit (right forearm strain) on the 10-day disabled list. After the game, manager Davey Martinez detailed the next few weeks for Murphy, confirming the...
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Starting lineup: Twins at Nats exhibition game in D.C. (updated)

Starting lineup: Twins at Nats exhibition game in D.C. (updated)
It is the butterflies-in-the-tummy-worthy moment. That moment you walk back into Nats Park and you see the boys in red and white taking pregame grounders and batting practice. Baseball is back in D.C. today as the Nationals face off against the Minnesota Twins in one last exhibition game before they travel to Cincinnati for Thursday's opener against the Reds. The pitching matchup: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.30 ERA) vs. Right-hander José Berríos (2-1, 1.69) New manager Davey...
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Indians taking run at third consecutive AL Central title

Indians taking run at third consecutive AL Central title
After losing the 2016 World Series in seven games and the 2017 Division Series to the Yankees in five games, the Cleveland Indians hope to take a run at a third consecutive American League Central championship. But their biggest competition comes from the Twins, a wild card team in 2017 that has added six players, including five pitchers, two of them starters. The White Sox and Tigers are in rebuild, although the White Sox are, unlike the Tigers, beyond the first step. The Royals lost two key...
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Be ready early: Orioles' April schedule is brutal

Be ready early: Orioles' April schedule is brutal
When the 2018 season begins, the Orioles will be afforded no time to ease into the action. The early season schedule is tough and littered with 2017 playoff teams. Of the 15 American League teams, just five finished over .500 last year and they were all playoff teams. Cleveland won 102 games, Houston won 101 on its way to the World Series title, Boston won 93, New York won 91 and Minnesota 85. Of their first seven series of the 2018 season, the Orioles play each of those five teams once. They...
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Taking a look at the bizarre AL wild card race

Taking a look at the bizarre AL wild card race
The American League wild card race is bizarre, flawed or mediocre - whatever you choose to call it. In most seasons, teams struggling to stay above .500 would be long gone out of the race. Not this year. Here is what makes the AL wild card race so wild: * The Twins, who lost 103 games in 2016, are contenders even with a rotation that includes Bartolo Colon, Aaron Slegers, Dillion Gee and Tim Melville. Colon is 44 and looks like a sportswriter. Slegers has made one big league start, Gee 23 in...
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