Twins complete much-needed sweep with 10-1 victory
MINNEAPOLIS — When you get home after a disastrous road trip, it’s nice to have the worst team in baseball waiting for you.
Jake Odorizzi pitched six scoreless innings and Mitch Garver, Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier homered as the Minnesota Twins completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 10-1 victory on Sunday.
The Twins went 1-8 on a nine-game swing through Chicago and Milwaukee and had lost six straight after being swept by the Cubs and Brewers. But they took out their frustrations on the hapless Orioles, who lost for the 12th time in 13 games and fell to 24-65 on the season.
“We’re just trying to establish a little bit of something here as we head into our last week before break, and the guys responded,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think there’s been a lot of encouraging signs, from nice starts from the rotation to some bats that contributed.”
The Twins remain 9 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central, but they picked up 3 1/2 games on the Indians this weekend and have a chance to cut the lead further as series with Kansas City and Tampa Bay round out their last homestand before the All-Star break.
Odorizzi (4-6) turned in his third consecutive strong outing, allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out five. In his last three starts, the Twins’ opening day starter has allowed just two earned runs over 17 innings.
“The final score was kind of deceiving, but it was a close game for five or six innings,” Odorizzi said. “Garver and I worked really well, tried to keep them off-balance, do what we do.”
Orioles starter Alex Cobb (2-11), Odorizzi’s former teammate in Tampa Bay, kept the Twins at bay for the first four innings but still ended up taking the loss. That ties him with Kansas City’s Jason Hammel for the most in the major leagues.
“Alex was really good in the first four innings,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We’re just not scoring runs, (which) creates a lot of pressure on pitchers to be perfect.”
Garver’s home run broke up a scoreless game in the fifth, and the Twins poured it on with an eight-run sixth to put the game away. After three close wins to start the series, Minnesota enjoyed a rare laugher with its largest margin of victory this season.
However, as promising as the four-game sweep was for the Twins, their manager cautioned them to keep things in perspective.
“Enjoy today, (but) be ready to play tomorrow,” Molitor said. “We’re not in a position to let our guard down, by any means.”
GARVER GOES DEEP
Garver’s home run was aided by the process he went through in his first at-bat of the game. With two on and two out in the second inning, Garver fell behind Cobb 0-2 before working the count full. Then he hit a line drive but was robbed by Manny Machado, who made a diving catch at shortstop to end the inning.
The next time around, after Max Kepler drew a leadoff walk, Garver again worked the count full before slamming a fastball high and deep down the left field line, just inside the foul pole, for his fourth home run of the season.
“He had an opportunity to see the arsenal, the knuckle curve and the rising fastball,” Molitor said of Garver. “He worked it to where he got what he could handle. I think you’re always learning in-game about just the approach that might work out best for you.”
EIGHT IS GREAT
The Twins took command with their eight-run sixth. Dozier led off with a double and Eduardo Escobar followed with a 426-foot home run onto the plaza in right field for his 14th homer of the season.
Minnesota strung together four singles and an error to score three more runs before Dozier capped the inning with a three-run shot to the second deck in left-center off reliever Ryan Meisinger.
DAVIS SPOILS SHUTOUT
Baltimore’s Chris Davis homered off reliever Matt Magill with two outs in the ninth for the Orioles’ only run. It was a bit of payback for Davis, who was called out on strikes with two on and two out in the first and sixth innings.
Orioles: Showalter said that RHP Chris Tillman, who has been on the DL since May 11 with a strained lower back, is expected to make a minor-league rehab start on Tuesday at Class A Frederick. . Cobb left the game during Minnesota’s eight-run sixth with a blister on his right index finger, but he said after that game that he doesn’t think it will affect his next start.
Twins: 1B Joe Mauer got the day off. The 35-year-old had started the last six games, and with the Twins not getting a day off until the All-Star break Molitor said he was looking for a good spot to give Mauer a rest.
Orioles: Baltimore hosts the Yankees for a doubleheader on Monday afternoon. The Orioles have not yet named a starter for the opener, while rookie RHP Yefry Ramirez (0-2, 2.51 ERA) will start the second game.
Twins: Minnesota’s homestand continues with a three-game series against the Royals, who have the second-worst record in the majors and have lost nine straight. RHP Jose Berrios (8-7, 3.54) will start the opener for the Twins.