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Twins 10, Orioles 4: Rain Almost Takes Pity On Baltimore, Offense Explodes to Seal Series Victory

Sometimes it doesn't matter who you simply can't go wrong.

Coming into the game, the Twins were already in a moderately precarious position in terms of position players.  Justin Morneau and Orlando Hudson were unavailable, and no teams likes having to substitute two of the first four hitters in their lineup if the lineup is any good at all.  Today it seemed like the stars aligned, or maybe it was just the heat in Baltimore, but when Ron Gardenhire penciled in his lineup card Joe Mauer, Denard Span and J.J. Hardy were all missing as well.  Mauer was sore and often has afternoons off following night games, Span was sick and Hardy, Gardy was concerned, was dehydrated.

Naturally this brought out the snark in everyone.  Either people didn't believe Gardenhire for his choices, which doesn't really make much sense considering he isn't going to actively sabotage his team, or else people were criticizing him for how he chose to construct his batting order with the players available to him:


Minnesota Twins @ Baltimore Orioles

07/25/10 1:35 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins Baltimore Orioles
Jason Repko - CF Corey Patterson - LF
Alexi Casilla - 2B Miguel Tejada - 3B
Delmon Young - LF Nick Markakis - RF
Jim Thome - DH Luke Scott - 1B
Michael Cuddyer - 1B Ty Wigginton - DH
Jason Kubel - RF Felix Pie - CF
Danny Valencia - 3B Matt Wieters - C
Nick Punto - SS Julio Lugo - 2B
Drew Butera - C Cesar Izturis - SS

To be fair, it's not as though Gardy had a lot of options.  Coming into today's game Casilla was sporting an exceptionally healthy .385 on-base percentage, which isn't bad.  Alexi has been very selective at the plate, and it's showing.  The biggest issue with this batting order:  Jason Repko leading off.

Repko was 4-for-16 with a walk coming into today's game with the Twins, and has a career on-base percentage of .297 in 495 Major League plate appearances.  Small sample size?  Absolutely.  But there's a reason for that:  he's not a good Major League hitter.  It seems obvious to me, and considering Gardy's love for the man you'd think it was obvious too, but shouldn't Nick Punto have been at the top of the order with Casilla?  Punto's career .322 OBP isn't anything to write home about, but at least there's this:  the man has a Major League track record, is probably more adept at understanding the game situation and the hitters behind him, and it at least seems like a tactical decision.

But what do I know?  Repko led off the top of the ninth with Minnesota's fourth home run of the game and the first of his Minnesota career; it's also his 12th career shot, and first since 2006.

More on the contest after the jump.

Oddly enough, the Orioles actually held the lead after the first inning.  Corey Patterson led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Nick Markakis.  All that in just seven pitches.  While Baltimore would manage a few more base runners against Kevin Slowey, the Minnesota pitcher was in control.

It was fun to watch Slowey work today.  He threw a lot of fastballs again, but this time on only 49 of his 92 pitches.  As a result he kept the Orioles off balance enough to induce ten groundball outs.  Again he didn't miss many bats, but against a slumping offense like Baltimore's you don't really need to.

Repko was hit by a pitch to start the third.  Jake Arrieta loaded the bases after looking sharp the first couple of innings, and Jason Kubel announced his presence with authority.  He crushed an Arrieta changeup deep to right center field for what's becoming the patented Kubel Slam, and up 4-0 the Twins never looked back.

Drew Butera would triple.  He would later drive in a run.  Delmon Young and Jim Thome went back-to-back in the sixth.  Punto doubled twice, Danny Valencia picked up three more hits and Casilla not only had a trio of his own singles but made a couple of nice plays in the field.

It was a complete and total annihilation of the Baltimore Orioles by the B-Squad.  It was just one of those days.

Unfortunately the rain delay ended Kevin's afternoon.  Jose Mijares pitched a scoreless seventh and Nick Blackburn pitched a fine eighth, but things did get a little sketchy for him in the ninth.  The game was never in doubt but for the first time in the entire game the Orioles were seeing the ball well, and they hit Nick pretty hard.  He allowed three runs off five hits, with eight men coming to the plate.  Suffice it to say, this wasn't the relief appearance Blackburn was hoping for.

But the Twins still win big, and they take three of four from the Orioles in Baltimore.  That's a great start to this road trip.

Kevin Slowey
Jose Mijares

Nick Blackburn