Orioles aim to establish momentum in finale vs. Twins (Jul 09, 2017)
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Orioles finally ended their slide with a 5-1 win against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Baltimore knows recovering from its recent struggles won't be an overnight fix. The Orioles hope to win Sunday, get a little momentum before the All-Star break and then keep building to a spot in contention.
Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 6.64 ERA) starts the finale of the four-game series in Minnesota on Sunday with Baltimore (41-46) looking for its first back-to-back wins since June 25-27. Kyle Gibson (5-6, 5.82) will start for the Twins (45-42).
"Everything worked today," Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop said after hitting a long two-run homer in Saturday's victory. "We're looking for it to work tomorrow. Win tomorrow and then get a little bit of a break, and come into the second half stronger. Better than the first half, so we got to push for the playoffs."
Schoop made his first major league start at shortstop on Saturday as Baltimore tries to find ways to fill-in for the injured J.J. Hardy. Schoop, named an All-Star for the first time this week, handled each of his defensive opportunities and hit his 18th homer of the season.
For Schoop, and maybe the Orioles, Sunday's change might have added a bit of a boost. Baltimore snapped a five-game losing streak and beat the Twins for the first time in six games this season.
"Had a lot of fun with it, Jon took it very serious," manager Buck Showalter said. "He did a good job with it. Jon brought a lot of energy to the game. ... Sometimes you throw a few things like that just to change the giddy-up a little bit, you know?"
The Orioles will try to build off the win and Wade Miley's start. They had slipped to six games under .500 heading into Saturday before pulling within 8 1/2 games of American League East-leading Boston.
"If we're looking in the standings right now, we're wrong," Miley said. "We just go play day by day and just play the game the right way. That was a pretty clean baseball game. It's one of the first ones in a while. Just play clean baseball and just see where we end up, rather than trying to strive for something or trying to do more, trying to almost do too much. Just relax, play the game and have fun."
Jimenez has alternated wins and loss his past four starts, losing his last outing at Milwaukee after giving up five runs in five innings. The right-hander surrendered six runs in four innings against the Twins on May 22. He's 5-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 12 games and 11 starts against Minnesota in his career.
Gibson is slowly turning around his frustrating season. He snapped a streak of four straight losses to start the campaign when he beat Baltimore earlier this season. But the right-hander yielded six runs in five innings in the game, part of an 8.62 ERA in his first seven starts.
Since that game, Gibson is 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA in eight starts.
"It's just been mostly about my mindset," Gibson said. "I don't feel like my stuff is that much different. I think my mindset has allowed me to execute better. I've gotten in situations where in the first six starts, I ended up caving in and not making it out of the third, fourth, fifth inning. I think with my mindset change of looking at what I'm doing, I think it's been able to help a lot and just clearing up my mind."
Minnesota has won four of its six games on the current homestand and is feeling good about its recent play. Manager Paul Molitor noted the pleasant feeling in the clubhouse before Saturday's game and players weren't overreacting to the one loss.
"You know, not every day we win," said All-Star Miguel Sano, who hit his 21st homer on Saturday. "It's a part of the game. One day you be high. One day you be low. So I don't have too much more to say about that."
The Orioles would like such a feeling as they work their way back from the recent slide.
"One game at a time," Schoop said. "Don't think about yesterday. Today, we got a win. Don't even think about today. Come back tomorrow trying to win again."