The Orioles are thriving at home these days, going 19-6 since June 30 and outscoring opponents 124-72. They’re now 21 games above .500, tying their season high, and continue to lead the Yankees by seven games in the American League East.
In addition, the Orioles have won 11 of their last 13 series openers. They ran away with this one tonight.
The joy was tempered by Steve Pearce’s abdominal injury, which manager Buck Showalter discussed following a 9-1 victory over the Twins at Camden Yards.
“He felt it a little bit a couple of days ago and he’s fine last night,” Showalter said. “We went through batting practice just to be on the safe side and everything was fine. I just didn’t like some of the feedback I was getting from him. I’m not going to take a chance on it.
“Abdominal strain. That’s what they reported, right? We’re trying to stay away from that O word, so we’ll see. He’s going to have an MRI in the morning at 9:30. Hopefully, we’ll have our arms around what we’re dealing with.”
The “O” word is “oblique” and nobody wants to consider it.
Pearce didn’t sustain the injury on any play in the field.
“Just swings,” Showalter said. “Stevie’s been pretty close to the vest with it. I had to get him up the runway and one-on-one him to get him to... He had said something to Jimmy (Presley) after the first at-bat tonight that Jimmy brought to my attention that alarmed me a little bit. Didn’t like that, because anytime you hear something like that from Steve, you can usually multiply it times two.
“He’s been swinging the bat well and he’s been having some issues. Hopefully, we get some good news tomorrow and it’s short-term.”
Pearce told reporters that he’s not overly concerned.
“I’m just hoping it’s a day or two thing,” he said. “I’m not feeling any pain or anything, just discomfort.”
Showalter said the catch along the railing tonight didn’t aggravate the injury.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Most of the issues that I understand - he’ll be able to help you with it more than I can - I think were just swinging.”
Chris Davis had a big swing tonight, his grand slam in the fourth off Twins starter Trevor May breaking open the game.
“Chris has stayed selective,” Showalter said. “You can see the walk total, you see the defense and the effort he’s playing with. Obviously, that was the big blow of the night. Of course, the tack-on runs. But Chris has kept working through thick and thin. He’s got a chance to end up with 25-30 home runs and 80 RBIs. Who knows? We know what he can do in bunches.
“I’m real proud of the way he’s continued to fight through it. A lot of people could have or would have given in, but he hasn’t.”
The Orioles avoided more injuries after Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz were hit by pitches before Davis’ slam.
“(May) had some command issues,” Showalter said. “Neither one of them were intentional or anything. It’s just not a whole lot of fun. Adam was more on the hip than the buttocks. They’re all kind of, we all know what one errant pitch means to a team. Nellie got it more in the meat of the forearm up in here than anywhere else. Initially, we thought it hit him in the wrist. We didn’t like that.”
Jimmy Paredes made his Orioles debut after Pearce left the game and went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored.
“Wanted to get Jimmy out there and kind of see,” Showalter said. “Could have gone with Ryan (Flaherty) or him, but it was a good opportunity to get his feet wet and maybe help us evaluate what we might have there.
“He was solid. I know he was excited about the base hit. He had a good, solid, fundamental at-bat, getting the runner over. And a walk.”
Delmon Young hit a two-run homer that stood after an umpires’ review.
“The question if they’d had ruled fan interference, they could have given Jonesy home plate,” Showalter said. “I’m not quite sure how they saw it but I liked the end game on that. At the very least, Delmon would have had a double and the run would have scored, I think.”
Let’s not forget Miguel Gonzalez, who held the Twins to a Trevor Plouffe solo home run over seven innings. He’s posted a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts, with three walks and 13 strikeouts. He’s also allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight games.
“He was solid,” Showalter said. “It’s crazy. He was 89-90 in the first inning and I wondered what kind of fastball he was carrying. He had really good late life. Miggy’s got a really good wrist. He’s got a lot of late life. He was solid. He gave in there with the home run, but that’s as sharp as you’re going to see him. They’re a club that can swing the bat.
“We caught them after a long night in Kansas City, extra-inning game. I’m sure they’ll get rested up and present a different challenge tomorrow.”