The patience that Alex Cobb required to get him through his two stints on the disabled list, the groin injury late in spring training and the back spasms that cropped up after his first start, will be needed to guide him through another difficult period in his professional life.
Cobb’s return to the active roster and rotation couldn’t have gone much worse tonight. He allowed three home runs as the Orioles blew past the major league record. The nine runs charged to him tied his career high.
The Twins hit eight homers in Game 2, blowing it open with a six-run third, and completed the sweep with a 16-7 victory before an announced doubleheader crowd of 28,409 at Camden Yards.
It’s going to get better - for Cobb and the Orioles. But tonight was a painful experience for a club that’s been buoyed by its ability to stay competitive.
The Orioles have surrendered 57 home runs to pass the 1996 Tigers (50) for the highest total before May 1. Thirty-nine have been hit in nine games at Camden Yards.
Wait until the weather warms up.
Chris Davis pitched the ninth inning for his second career appearance on the mound, the other coming on May 6, 2012 at Fenway Park. It was the 11th time that the Orioles used a position player to pitch and the second this season, with Davis joining Hanser Alberto.
Davis retired Jake Cave on a ground ball, but former teammate Jonathan Schoop - smiling as he stood at the plate - homered on the next pitch clocked at 84 mph. Davis struck out Ehire Adrianza, Byron Buxton doubled and Mitch Garver lined to center.
Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer in the first and was a triple shy of the cycle by the fourth. C.J. Cron added a solo shot in the first, Garver had an RBI double with two outs in the second and the Twins went a little crazy in the third.
Eddie Rosario hit a two-run homer after twice going deep in Game 1. Buxton had a two-run double to expel Cobb from the game and Garver greeted Mike Wright with a three-run shot for a 10-0 lead.
Frederick native Branden Kline made his major league debut and served up the second home runs of the night for Garver and Cruz in the eighth inning to bump the lead to 15-4. Kline retired the side in order in the seventh.
Renato Núñez had his first career multi-homer game. The Orioles wanted to get in on the longball action.
Cobb allowed 10 hits. The nine runs on his line appeared two other times in his career, most recently on June 10, 2018 in Toronto.
There was a point between singles by Cron and Cave in the third when Cobb walked behind the mound and bent sideways at the waist a few times. As if trying to stretch out his back.
The feel-good moment of the night was provided by Kline, the 27th Marylander to play for the Orioles, who entered after Wright worked 3 1/3 innings. Kline had his fastball topping out at 98 mph in the seventh. He threw 13 pitches - getting a ground ball, a lazy fly ball and a foul popup - and three teammates wrapped their arms around him and patted his back before he reached the dugout.
Kline came back out for the eighth and the Twins went back to bashing, but it wasn’t going to ruin his night.
Schoop celebrated his return to Baltimore with a three-run homer off Wright in the fourth after Cruz and Rosario singled. No one warmed in the bullpen. Wright had to keep pushing through his outing, though it didn’t prevent manager Brandon Hyde from using a position player later.
Núñez hit a two-run shot off Martín Pérez in the bottom of the fourth - Rosario didn’t turn around until after the ball landed - to reduce the lead to 13-2. Núñez, who also homered in Game 1, reached the left field seats in the eighth after Pedro Severino’s RBI grounder and a wild pitch that scored Jonathan Villar.
Alberto hit his first major league homer, a two-run shot in the sixth.
A flurry of substitutions and moves landed catcher Jesús Sucre at first base for the first time in his career.
The Orioles have surrendered home runs in 21 of 22 games. They close out the series Sunday afternoon with Dylan Bundy, whose seven homers allowed are tied for the American League lead, trying to reverse the trend.
Update: Kline was returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.
Cobb said his back felt fine.
The 17 home runs combined in the doubleheader is a major league record.
Here are some quotes:
Hyde on Cobb: “Just looked rusty to me. I haven’t talked to him since he came out of the game. But, yeah, a little rusty and it’s a good ballclub. Made a few mistakes that they hit hard and just didn’t last very long.”
Hyde on all the home runs allowed: “I’ve never seen home runs given up like we do and it’s something we just obviously have to improve on. I’m going to give it to our position players and our hitters. Second game of a doubleheader and we’re down two touchdowns in the third or the fourth and to continue to take good ABs all the way through nine innings says a lot about our guys. Still took good ABs late in the game and after six-plus hours of playing baseball and being down a ton early. I’d like to hand it to our hitters for continuing to make every at-bat important and grind and they’re doing that.”
Hyde on thought process using Davis: “We needed someone to throw. That was the process. I just went to him and asked if he would be able to do it and he wanted to do it, so he pitched the ninth.”
Hyde on Davis’ reaction: “He was actually incredibly professional. I didn’t want to ... he’s not been feeling well, plays one full game. When the game got out of hand I wanted to get Mancini and Villar out of there badly. Was trying to go through options on how we could do that and he volunteered to go in the game, which I thought was incredibly professional. I didn’t want to do that, though, and then the pitching thing came up, so I re-approached him about that. So, yeah, he took the ball.”
Hyde on Kline: “Got his debut, got his feet wet. Brandon’s got really good stuff. You guys saw that. A 97-98 mph fastball, he’s aggressive. He has a good slider, just missed down with it too much and kind of got in some fastball counts. With Cruz there, he missed a few times with the slider and Nellie was sitting on a heater obviously at 3-2 and let him know. But, yeah, I was happy with, one, I think it’s really cool he made his debut and I wish it was in a little better circumstances. And he showed good stuff like he did in spring training. We should see him again at some point.”
Núñez on hitting two home runs: “Of course it feels great, first time in my career. I’ll keep working and hopefully we get a W tomorrow.”
Núñez on all the home runs allowed: “I think they’re working hard, you know. They’re trying to throw the ball well. That happens. Hopefully they keep working harder and keep trying and everything changes for them and they get some outs, some good ones.”
Núñez on Davis pitching: “He’s great. He pitched one time or two. I was warming up with him in the cage, so I could see he has good stuff. I was getting ready to go out in left field and I was catching him. He has pretty good stuff.”
Cobb on start: “It was a tough day. I really didn’t have much feel out there. It’s been a long time away from the mound, but at the end of the day, you’ve got find a way to get some outs there. Especially on a doubleheader day it’s tougher because you’re churning in the bullpen, and you’ve got the quick turnaround day game tomorrow, so I’ve would have liked to have gotten more outs for the guys tonight.”
Cobb on the home runs: “First of all, we’ve been giving up too many home runs as a staff, and I don’t want to get too much into it, but the baseballs are just absolutely ridiculous. The home run rate that’s happening this year in baseball I think is ready to outdo easily what it did last year.
“We’ve had some questions about these baseballs for a long time. It’s seems like MLB is kind of doubling down on that. They’re flying, no doubt. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to have to figure out a way to get the ball on the ground and get outs. You see popups leaving the field right now. It’s tough to wrap your mind around it. The ball’s the same for every team out there. I’d like to go ahead and find a way to slow that rate down because it seems like every game is a home run derby right now for us.”
Kline on debut: “It was an incredible moment, obviously. There still obviously a lot of things I need to get better on. Being able to work my off-speed in for strikes, that’s the biggest takeaway and I saw that. At the same time, it was a great moment for myself and my family and friends. A lot of hard work went into tonight. Even though it was just two innings and about 30 pitches, it was about 25 years of work that went into that. It was fun.”