The Orioles are back on the road, flying into Minnesota yesterday afternoon with a stop pending in Chicago. They’re 7-6 away from home.
The Twins swept the Orioles last year in a four-game series at Target Field. Alex Cobb, making tonight’s start, walked off the mound in the finale with a blister on his finger.
Six games on the road trip led to six defeats, leaving the Orioles 24-65 overall and losers of 13 of their last 14 games. They fell to 41 below .500 for the first time since Aug. 1, 2010, immediately before Buck Showalter took over as manager.
They scored one run or fewer in 24 games and avoided their ninth shutout when Chris Davis homered with two outs in the ninth inning. Davis will rejoin the team tonight after attending to a personal matter Wednesday.
Davis missed the Orioles’ 10th win of the season, a total they didn’t reach last year until May 10.
Cobb has made five career starts against the Twins and registered a 6.75 ERA and 1.625 WHIP in 24 innings. He’s allowed 18 runs and 31 hits and the Twins have slashed .307/.369/.554.
Nelson Cruz is 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles and two home runs against Cobb. C.J. Cron’s four hits in 14 at-bats include a double and two home runs.
* Manager Brandon Hyde appeared to settle on Jesús Sucre as his starting catcher following a spring training competition involving six players. Sucre was delayed but not denied.
Sucre has made 16 starts, but Pedro Severino is weaving his way into the lineup with more frequency.
Hyde put Sucre behind the plate in four consecutive games April 14-17, but the duo has been alternating of late.
Severino on April 18, both starting in Saturday’s doubleheader, Sucre on Sunday, Severino on Monday, Sucre on Tuesday and Severino on Wednesday.
It’s Sucre’s turn tonight against left-hander Martín Pérez if we can read anything into a small pattern.
Sucre is 2-for-6 lifetime against Pérez. Severino hasn’t faced him.
Both catchers are lauded for their defense and Severino should be credited with half of Mychal Givens’ save Wednesday night after sliding to his right and blocking a pitch in the dirt that otherwise would have rolled toward the backstop and allowed the tying run to score.
* Joey Rickard hit his second triple Wednesday night to tie him with Cedric Mullins for the team lead. Rickard became the starting center fielder after the Orioles optioned Mullins, who collected both triples in an April 8 game against the Athletics.
Rickard has hit safely - as opposed to dangerously - in five of his last six starts. The run of success started with a 4-for-5 night at Tropicana Field that ended with an 11-inning win, Rickard providing the game-winning double.
* How hot is Dwight Smith Jr. at the plate?
Smith has matched his career high with an eight-game hitting streak, the first coming earlier this season, from March 28-April 6.
How hot is Trey Mancini?
He was leading the American League in hits with 35 going into the off-day, putting him four behind the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger.
Me: “Guess who leads the American League in hits.”
Emily (feigning interest): “I don’t know.”
Me: “Trey Mancini. Cray.
Emily: “Yeah, Cray Mancini.”
* The Orioles surrendered a home run in 21 of their first 22 games, but have kept opponents in the ballpark in three of the last four.
Nothing the last two nights, as the Orioles won their first home series since Aug. 27-29, 2018 against the Blue Jays.
The Orioles lead the majors with 59 home runs allowed, the Brewers and Cardinals tied for second yesterday with 46.
* A positive streak ended for reliever Paul Fry and he still had a successful night.
Fry allowed a hit for the first time in four appearances, with McCann poking a single into right field with two outs in the seventh after Abreu walked. Yoán Moncada grounded into a force to keep the lead at 4-2, and Fry logged another 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Hyde keeps using Fry in high-leverage situations, the left-hander’s responsibilities growing while Richard Bleier is on the injured list, John Means is in the rotation and Scott is trying to earn more trust.
Fry has pitched in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. He’s recorded a save and four holds, and the only home run surrendered came off the bat of Greg Bird in the March 28 season opener at Yankee Stadium.
* Renato Núñez had his issues at first base at Tropicana Field, a couple ground balls too hot for him to handle as he began to resemble one of those rotating metal ducks at a shooting gallery. But he assisted Fry Wednesday night with a tremendous play to rob Tim Anderson before the next two batters reached.
Núñez made a diving stop and raced to the bag to retire Anderson in only his third career appearance at first.
* Means celebrated his 26th birthday while pitching to Welington Castillo, who was celebrating his 32nd. Castillo grounded out twice before Means came out of the game.
I wondered aloud, if tweeting it counts as aloud, about the last time a pitcher and hitter celebrated birthdays in the same game on the same day. According to STATS, it happened once last year with the Royals’ Jakob Junis and the Twins’ Robbie Grossman on Sept. 16.
The Orioles also were involved back on Aug. 1, 2014 with center fielder Adam Jones and the Mariners’ Roenis Elías.
Here’s a list supplied by STATS going back to the 2010 season, in case anyone decides to quiz you:
April 24, 2019: John Means (Orioles) vs. Welington Castillo (White Sox)
Sept. 16, 2018: Jakob Junis (Royals) vs. Robbie Grossman (Twins)
Aug. 16, 2016: Justin Grimm (Cubs) vs. Martín Maldonado (Brewers)
Aug. 12, 2016: Jhan Marinez (Brewers) vs. Zack Cozart (Reds)
Aug. 26, 2015: David Price (Blue Jays) vs. Elvis Andrus (Rangers)
Aug. 1, 2014: Roenis Elías (Mariners) vs. Adam Jones (Orioles)
May 3, 2012: Homer Bailey (Reds) vs. Ryan Dempster (Cubs)
May 3, 2012: Ryan Dempster (Cubs) vs. Homer Bailey (Reds) - see what happened there?
Aug. 26, 2010: Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) vs. Brett Wallace (Astros)