Twins complete four-game sweep with 10-1 win over woeful Orioles
MINNEAPOLIS — Could it be it's not how you play but who you play?
It's certainly fair for the Twins to wonder that after pummeling the Baltimore Orioles 10-1 on Sunday afternoon, July 8, at Target Field. Clubbing three homers, two of them during an eight-run uprising in the sixth, the Twins completed a four-game sweep of the majors' worst team.
The four-game home sweep over the Orioles was the first in Twins history in the head-to-head matchup. The Twins also took four straight at Camden Yards in August 2015, back in Paul Molitor's first year as manager.
With the rebuilding Kansas City Royals coming in next for a three-game series, followed by the middling Tampa Bay Rays, the Twins suddenly seem capable of a fire sale-arresting surge into the all-star break.
"If we keep winning up until the break, I would say certainly," Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-6) said after tossing six scoreless innings. "We have to keep doing it. That's basically it. We're to the point where just winning series isn't going to do much for us. If we're trying to keep this together, we have to have sweeps."
Coming off an 1-8 road trip through Chicago and Milwaukee that included back-to-back sweeps against the top two teams in the National League, the Twins are one game shy of their season-long five-game winning streak, accomplished back in early May.
"It's a tough spot to be in for (the front office)," Odorizzi said. "I don't really envy it. We just have to take care of our business and let them do their thing. I like the way we're going right now. You can start to see that confidence come out from everybody. We're playing the right way."
This one was scoreless until rookie catcher Mitch Garver connected on a two-run homer to left in the fifth. Garver's 419-foot shot came on the eighth pitch of a prolonged battle with Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb.
Garver also fell behind 0-2 and pushed Cobb to eight pitches in the second before lining out.
Cobb, Odorizzi's former teammate with the Tampa Bay Rays, signed a four-year, $57 million deal in March that has been nearly as disastrous as the Orioles' season as a whole. Eduardo Escobar added a two-run homer to jump-start the sixth, and Logan Morrison, another ex-Ray, followed with a bunt single to beat the shift.
Morrison later hustled home to score ahead of Manny Machado's throwing error toward home on Garver's chopper. Catcher Caleb Joseph had enough time to step on the plate, but in his haste he allowed the fifth Twins run to score.
Brian Dozier added a three-run homer to cap the Twins' outburst, which tied with an eight-run fourth on April 11 against the Houston Astros for their biggest inning of the first half. That time the Twins blew an 8-1 lead after four and had to win on Max Kepler's walk-off homer in the ninth.
Cobb, who left with a blister on his first index finger, failed to record an out in the sixth and left with a 6.67 earned-run average. Odorizzi spoke openly in the spring about trying to recruit his friend to the Twin Cities, but it never seemed Cobb was a priority for the Twins, who instead signed ex-Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12 million deal.
"He was out there for a long time," Molitor said of Cobb. "He was a guy that crossed a lot of teams' conversations. We were able to land a couple of starting pitchers; he wasn't one of them."
Chris Davis' two-out homer in the ninth kept the Twins from notching their seventh shutout. The Orioles (24-65) remain on pace for 118 losses.
Since tweaking his glove-side mechanics three starts ago, Odorizzi (4-6) has allowed just two earned runs (1.06 ERA) over his past 17 innings. Has Odorizzi lobbied the front office to buy the Twins a little more time before sending prospective free agents elsewhere?
"That's above my pay grade," he said. "I've got enough to worry about on the field. I don't need to worry about what's going on with chess moves off the field. As long as everybody has that same mindset, you don't worry about what might happen. Just worry about what can happen."