So much for a winning streak. The Twins were short handed tonight with only 22 available players, as Joe Mauer was already on the DL with bilateral leg weakness and a mysterious viral infection and Justin Morneau sat out of his third straight game with "flu-like symptoms". Delmon Young also sat tonight with sore ribs and more flu symptoms. And to top it off, closer Matt Capps was unavailable, having pitched each of the last three games. The results were predictable, at least from an offensive standpoint, as the Twins were shut out by the Orioles tonight in Baltimore. But the Orioles also pounded Twins starter Carl Pavano for 11 runs, all scored with two outs.
Pavano had troubles with the strike zone all night long, nibbling on the corners but Home Plate Umpire Mike Winters wouldn't pull the trigger on an inning ending called strike three on a few occasions. Then again, I couldn't blame Pavano for nibbling, as the infield defense behind him, especially Alexi Casilla, was less than stellar. With two out in the bottom of the second inning, Adam Jones grounded into the hole between shortstop and third base. Casilla gloved the ball, but couldn't quite set himself to make a strong throw and end the inning. It would have been a nice play, certainly not an error, but it was a play we saw J.J. Hardy make many times last season. The Orioles would make the Twins pay with a walk, single, walk and single to score three runs.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth, with the Orioles up 4-0, Derrek Lee smashed a line drive right in front of Casilla's left foot. Casilla tried to "side saddle" the drive, but he couldn't field it cleanly. By the time he chased down the ball, Lee was already about five feet from first base, and Casilla made an ill-advised throw about ten feet off line that was only saved by a dive from first baseman Luke Hughes. Two strikeouts, a single and a walk later, and the bases were loaded for Matt Wieters. Pavano just missed a couple close strikeout pitches, running the count full. This would prove costly as Wieters came through with a double high off the right field wall, clearing the bases for a 7-0 lead. Add in another fielding miscue by Casilla, rushing a throw in the dirt that Hughes couldn't handle, and the Twins were in an eight run hole.
Not that it mattered, as the Twins offense failed to do much of anything against Orioles starter Jake Arrieta. Denard Span singled to lead off the game, and Gardy made it clear he was going to play "little ball" with the patchwork lineup, as Matt Tolbert sacrificed Span to second. Jason Kubel and Jim Thome couldn't advance Span any further. In the end, the Twins managed only six hits, including two doubles, on the night, going 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
In other notes, Joe Nathan made his first appearance since removing himself from the closer role last weekend. It didn't go well, as he struggled to get the fastball down in the zone. Guerrero would make Nathan pay with a 3-run home run line drive just over the right field wall.
I'm not in a mood for studs and duds, as there weren't really any "stud" worthy performances from the Twins tonight.