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Baltimore 5, Minnesota 4: Twins Leave One on the Bases

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In front of at least 36,698 empty seats, the Twins dropped their third road game in a row, 5-4 to the Baltimore Orioles. Minnesota falls to 13-16, and has managed only five runs in the three losses. This is the second time the Twins have been swept in a short 2-game series on the road to an AL East opponent.

Tonight was a night of missed opportunities, as the Twins outhit the Orioles 14 to 9. The Baltimore pitchers and fielders did a good job of limiting the damage, walking only 2 batters and stranding 9 base runners. Minnesota did a good job hitting Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen hard, but excellent outfield defense by the Orioles robbed Twins hitters of at least three hits. In particular, Justin Morneau was victimized by a diving Adam Jones catch in the third and a leaping Nick Markakis catch at the right centerfield wall in the fifth. If those two balls had dropped, the Twins would have scored at least three additional runs in the two innings.

The Orioles were more efficient, scoring three runs on a Melvin Mora solo homerun and an Aubrey Huff 2-run shot. Both homeruns were hit off Minnesota starter Glen Perkins, continuing the regression to his xFIP (5.00 entering tonight's game). Coming into the game, Perkins had given up 49 fly balls, but only one homerun, and his HR/FB rate was bound to regress at some point. 10 fly balls later, Perkins has now given up 3 homeruns on the season.

After the homeruns, Perkins settled down, giving up only a single (erased by a double play) and a walk over the next 11 batters, allowing the Twins to claw back from a 4-2 deficit with single runs in the 6th and 7th innings. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless seventh, extending his scoreless streak to 9 innings, but Baltimore got to Jose Mijares for 3 hits and his first run allowed this season in the bottom of the 8th to put Baltimore ahead for good.

Notes and stars of the game follow the jump.

 

Notes:

- Adam Jones has a very strong arm. In the third inning, Jones threw home to hold Span at third base. The Baltimore TV feed (to which I am limited living here in Maryland) actually registered the throw at 98 MPH on the radar gun after reaching the catcher.

- Matt Tolbert is a breath of fresh air in the #2 slot. He was on base twice and executed a perfect bunt in the 7th to advance Denard Span to third, allowing Joe Mauer to drive in the game tying fourth run.

- Justin Morneau hit the ball well, but he's pressing at the plate. The front shoulder is flying out against right and left handers, resulting in weak fly balls to left field.

- No Twins hitter is more in need of a day off than Nick Punto. After another 0-4 day, he's 0 for his last 16 at bats and now has a .190/.293/.496 line, even worse than his historically bad 2007 performance. 

- Joe Crede finally hit the ball well on a consistent basis tonight. He doubled to deep right center, lined out to left, and singled sharply to left in his first three at bats. As a low ball hitter, Bergesen's sinking fastball was right down Crede's alley.   

- The Minnesota run producers, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel, left a total of 8 runners on base tonight. The Twins 1-3 hitters, Span, Tolbert and Mauer reached base a combined eight times, scoring only two runs (both by Span).

Stars of the game:

3 *** Joe Mauer. After going 0-7 with 3 strikeouts in Detroit, Joe Mauer got back in the groove by going 3-4 with a walk. All three hits were sharp ground balls and line drives right back up the middle.

2 ** Denard Span. 2-5, scoring two runs and made a couple very good catches in center field.

1 * Matt Guerrier. Pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing the Twins a chance to take the lead in the 8th.