BALTIMORE — Sometimes, Ervin Santana is so good it’s difficult to describe in words.
Santana pitched a two-hitter for his 10th career shutout, and the surging Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Tuesday night.
“You really can’t throw enough superlatives his way when you have a performance like that,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Santana (7-2) struck out five, walked two and retired the final 14 batters with only 42 pitches.
“The efficiency speaks to how well he pitched,” Molitor concluded.
The lone hits against Santana were a second-inning single by Welington Castillo and a single in the fifth by Jonathan Schoop. Only one runner got past first base.
It was the right-hander’s 18th complete game, the second this season.
Mixing a fastball with an effective changeup and a wicked slider, Santana baffled a power-laden lineup from start to finish.
“I was able to locate the fastball, then finish them off with the slider,” Santana said. “I don’t focus on the speed. I just try to throw strikes and keep the ball down and give our team a chance to win.”
After banging out 21 hits in a 14-7 win over Baltimore on Monday, the AL Central-leading Twins relied on exceptional pitching to earn their ninth victory in 13 games.
“Two different games,” Molitor said. “It’s funny how two teams can match up on consecutive days and have dramatically different baseball.”
Minnesota became the first team this season to capture a series at Camden Yards (the Orioles were 7-0-0). Now 13-5 on the road, the Twins on Wednesday will seek to complete their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since 1996.
Dylan Bundy (5-3) pitched well for the Orioles, but Santana was better. Bundy allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking three.
“I had my curveball working this outing and I think that played a big role,” Bundy said.
If Santana wasn’t so darn good, the postgame chatter might have centered around Baltimore’s big right-hander.
“He twirled a really good game tonight for us, and he did his part,” Orioles left fielder Trey Mancini said.
Byron Buxton hit an RBI single in the fifth and Brian Dozier homered in the seventh for a 2-0 lead. That was enough offense for Santana, the only pitcher in the majors with two shutouts this season.
A crowd of 13,294 endured a persistent rain shower that wasn’t quite fierce enough to cause umpires to stop play.
The weather suited Santana just fine. He lowered his ERA to 1.80 and improved to 4-0 with a 0.31 ERA on the road.
The Orioles recalled LHP Jayson Aquino from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned RHP Stefan Crichton. … C Francisco Pe?a cleared waivers and was assigned to Norfolk.
UBALDO ON HOLD
Ubaldo Jimenez hasn’t officially lost his place in the Orioles’ rotation, despite his poor outing Monday and ugly 7.17 ERA. “His next start is on Sunday, and we’ll see when we get there,” manager Buck Showalter said. Asked if the bullpen is a possibility for the struggling right-hander, Showalter replied, “That decision, one way or another, has not been made.”
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (sore shoulder) had an MRI scheduled for Tuesday and was slated to see a specialist Wednesday. “They’re trying to uncover every stone to make sure we’re not missing anything,” Molitor said.
Orioles: INF Ryan Flaherty (rotator cuff inflammation) will soon begin an arm-strengthening program in Florida, where LHP Zach Britton (forearm strain) is also rehabilitating an injury. “I told (Flaherty) he will give Zach some company,” Showalter said.
Twins: Jose Berrios (2-0, 0.59 ERA) makes his third start of the season. The 22-year-old has a lifetime record of 5-7, but he’s been sharp since his recall on May 12.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-0, 3.52 ERA) will try to help Baltimore avoid its fourth straight defeat, all at home.