Following a 10-day stretch in which they couldn’t do anything right, the Orioles made it look simple in an 11-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.
Scoring just 20 runs over the eight-game losing streak, Baltimore plated 11 runs in two-out situations, thanks in large part to four runs batted in from catcher Matt Wieters and three from leadoff hitter Brian Roberts. The pair drove in three in the bottom of the second to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead, their first advantage at any point since the end of the eighth inning in New York last Thursday.
Cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero put a cherry on top of the offensive explosion with a three-run homer to right field in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Orioles a season-high 11 runs and their third extra-base hit with two outs and runners in scoring position for the game. They had only one total in the first 15 games of the season.
Jake Arrieta mowed down the feeble Twins lineup in six shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. As he often has in his brief big league career, the 25-year-old struggled with his command, pitching into deep counts and walking three, but made quality pitches in thanks to Wieters’ calls behind the plate. Arrieta allowed the leadoff man to reach only once, providing some cushion when pitching into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings.
It was quite the contrast to the 7.71 earned run average posted by Orioles starters and the 53 earned runs allowed by the entire staff over the last eight games.
For a group shell-shocked by the violent U-turn following its hot start, the effort couldn’t have come at a better time.
“You go through things like this with real good clubs and with bad clubs,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles snapped the longest losing streak of his brief 73-game tenure in Baltimore. “This one had a different feel to it for me, and I still feel that way. Who knows what tomorrow brings? It doesn’t mean anything. We all want to know about something before it happens. We don’t know what tomorrow brings.”
His words couldn’t ring any truer about a team that started the season 6-1 and followed with an eight-game losing streak before disposing of the Twins in easy fashion in the second of a four-game set. How the Orioles will respond Wednesday night with Zach Britton taking the bump after his first career loss last Friday in Cleveland is anyone’s guess.
Showalter has always voiced his pride in focusing on the little things, the intricacies that can make the difference between winning and losing on any given night of a 162-game season. Tuesday was no exception early in the game despite the lopsided final score.
With two outs and no one on in the second, Adam Jones beat out an infield single to keep the inning alive and set the table for what turned into three runs before the final out was recorded.
In the fourth, Wieters was hit by a pitch after Carl Pavano retired the first two hitters of the inning. Then, Robert Andino — who has seven hits and two walks in his last 10 at-bats in place of the injured J.J. Hardy at shortstop — singled up the middle to enable Roberts to come to the plate to double in another run.
Two innings where the starting pitcher was on the verge of getting to the dugout unscathed suddenly yielded four runs for the opposition. Things spiraled out of control from there for Minnesota.
A common theme over the previous eight games, only with the Orioles on the wrong end every night.
“There is a lot more talent in the clubhouse than we’ve had in the past,” said Wieters, who scored a career-high three runs and posted his second career four-RBI game. “And with the track records all these guys have, you know they are going to do some damage at some point.”
It’s amazing how easy it looks when you’re getting productive at-bats throughout the lineup and making quality pitches on the hill.
Whether it was the law of averages simply swinging in the opposite direction for one night or the start of another hot spell — would you be surprised with either at this point? — the Orioles needed this one, regardless of how different this year might feel in their minds.