Just when it looks like the Orioles might be beginning to turn things around, they come through with even more disappointing performances. The Minnesota Twins came into Baltimore this week on a hot streak and they didn’t cool down, delivering a three game sweep to the struggling O’s.
The series started on Monday with a disappointing loss for the Orioles. Ubaldo Jimenez proved to be unreliable once again, giving up four runs on nine hits before exiting the game after just four innings of work. Jimenez did come back out for the fifth inning but quickly loaded the bases and gave up two runs without any outs. With the offense producing early, Buck Showalter decided to pull Jimenez in order to salvage the 6-4 lead.
Jimenez was replaced by Tyler Wilson, who gave up two more runs before getting an out in the fifth. The Twins found themselves in hole early but were able to score a total of four runs in the fifth to tie the game up.
Wilson would return to the mound in the sixth with an opportunity to stop the bleeding while the game was tied. However, the young pitcher gave up five more runs before being pulled with just one out in the sixth. In the span of two innings the Orioles went from being up with a comfortable 6-2 lead, to down 12-6.
As the Twins cruised to a 14-7 win the Orioles productive offense was overshadowed by inconsistent pitching once again. Adam Jones led the way with a three-run homer while Mark Trumbo and J.J. Hardy turned in multi-hit games.
After using four pitchers in the series opener, the O’s were looking for their starter to go deep in game two. Dylan Bundy was looking for a bounce back performance as well. During the Detroit series last week, Bundy found himself in a similar scenario but turned in his worst performance of the season. Five days later, the young pitcher was much better.
In fact, both starting pitchers were on their game resulting in an opposite outcome from Monday night’s game. Both Bundy and Twins starter, Ervin Santana encountered little trouble through the first half of the game but the Twins offense was able to get two runs off of Bundy before he exited after the seventh.
Santana was purely dominate. The veteran starter rolled through the O’s lineup with ease, pitching a complete game shutout with only two hits given up. With the Orioles offense refusing to take pitches, Santana was able to finish out some of the later innings by throwing less than 10 pitches.
The third and final game of the series would be played on short rest as the first pitch was slated for 12:30 in the afternoon on Thursday. The Orioles were in desperate need of a win to salvage something from this series, but more importantly remain within striking distance of the Yankees.
Chris Tillman’s transition back from injury has been a lot smoother than many fans had anticipated, but in Thursday afternoon’s game the O’s veteran was not quite up to par. Tillman pitched five innings of work, giving up four runs on nine hits. These four runs gave the Twins a 4-1 advantage for most of the game, until the Orioles offense finally showed signs of life in the seventh inning.
Chris Davis led off the seventh with a home run and Jonathan Schoop followed with a solo shot of his own to cut the deficit to just one run. Asher, O’Day, and Brach pitched in relief and were able to hold the Twins offense back for the potential comeback.
Trey Mancini kept the Orioles rally hopes alive with a leadoff single in the ninth but they didn’t last long. On the very next at bat, Schoop grounded into a double play while Brandon Kintzler was able to strike Hardy out to complete the save.
This marks the Orioles first series loss at home and their second time getting swept in the last two weeks. It’s safe to say that the Birds have hit a rough patch as they have only won three games in their last four series. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Orioles will travel to Houston this weekend before returning home to face the Yankees and Red Sox.