Twins 3, Orioles 1
There’s a reason why Jim Thome is on the brink of joining the
600-home run club.
The 40-year-old has worked hard at his craft since breaking into
the big leagues 20 years ago, and nothing has changed in his second
season with the Minnesota Twins.
Thome hit his 591st career home run and had two RBIs to back a
dominating pitching performance by Scott Baker, and the Twins beat
the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Thursday night to salvage a split of the
Thome hit a solo home run in the second inning and added an RBI
single in the sixth. He began the night with a .163 batting average
and five RBIs, which only served to increase his determination to
be a factor for the low-scoring Twins.
”I haven’t been swinging the bat all that great. I’ve been
working hard to make some adjustments,” Thome said. ”I saw some
things on video that I needed to correct, and I’ve worked on those
things in the (batting) cage.
”I just have to continue to come early and work hard. I’m a
firm believer that if you work on something consistently and
diligently, you might not see dividends the first or second or
third day, but eventually you will see some positive results.”
And now Thome stands only nine home runs away from becoming the
seventh player in major league history to hit 600.
”As a fan of the game, as a fan of history, it is exciting,”
he said. ”As you get closer, you get asked about it more because
it is a historical thing. You just try not to think about it too
much. It’s important to stay with your approach.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had no doubt that Thome would
eventually return to form.
”He’s never that far off. That’s why he has almost 600 home
runs,” Gardenhire said. ”Thome can swing. That’s one thing he can
do is swing the bat.”
Michael Cuddyer also connected for the last-place Twins, who
came in with a major league-low six home runs in 18 games.
Baker (1-2) allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings,
striking out nine and walking one. He is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in
eight career starts against Baltimore.
”It seems like we can’t beat the guy,” Orioles second baseman
Brian Roberts said. ”He’s a good pitcher, so you tip your hat and
unfortunately you move on.”
Baker allowed four runs in each of his first starts. Then, after
limiting Tampa Bay to one run over seven innings on Saturday, he
tossed a gem against Baltimore.
”I felt the same,” he said. ”I’m feeling better with my
mechanics. It was just a matter of changing speeds and keeping
these guys off-balance.”
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (1-3) gave up two runs and seven
hits in seven innings. He struck out four, walked none and lowered
his ERA to 3.12.
Unfortunately for Guthrie, Baker was even better. Baltimore got
only three runners to second base against the right-hander and none
of them made it to third.
”I was outpitched tonight,” Guthrie said. ”I didn’t make the
big pitches when I needed to.”
After the Orioles scored a run against the Twins bullpen in the
eighth, Matt Capps, the fourth Minnesota reliever, got three outs
for his third save.
Baltimore put a runner at second base in three of the first five
innings, but couldn’t capitalize. Nick Markakis twice made the
final out with runners at first and second.
Minnesota went up 2-0 in the sixth. Alexi Casilla hit a leadoff
single, advanced when Cuddyer was hit by a pitch and scored on
Thome’s single to center.
Cuddyer homered in the eighth off Mike Gonzalez. It was his
second in two nights and upped his RBI total for the season to
In the bottom half, Vladimir Guerrero singled in a run with two
outs before Glen Perkins retired Luke Scott with runners at the
NOTES: The Twins played a fifth straight game without first
baseman Justin Morneau (flu) and were also without infielder Delmon
Young, who has been out since Monday with the flu and a sore rib.
Young intends to get an MRI on Friday to determine the extent of
his rib injury. … Baltimore’s Derrek Lee needed an eighth-inning
double to lift his batting average over .200. He has one homer and
two RBIs. … The Twins has scored only one first-inning run this
season. … Thome has four career homers against Guthrie. He has
1,631 career RBIs, five fewer than Ernie Banks, who ranks 28th.