Baltimore (50-54) at Minnesota (52-54)

Cloudy Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu Jul 31, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With ace Sidney Ponson having departed in a trading-deadline deal, the Baltimore Orioles take on the Minnesota Twins in the finale of their three-game set at the Metrodome.

Rumored to be traded for much of the season because of his impending free-agent status, Ponson was dealt to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday for right-hander Kurt Ainsworth, left-hander Damian Moss and minor leaguer left-hander Ryan Hannaman.

Ponson, who turned down a contract extension from the Orioles, was 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA.

That leaves Jason Johnson, who will start for Baltimore on Thursday, to lead the rotation for the rest of the season. The 29-year-old right-hander, whose eight wins are the most on the team with Ponson traded, is 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA in five appearances, including four starts, against the Twins.

Minnesota, which has the second-fewest errors in the AL (56) after finishing with a league-low 74 last season, has committed eight miscues over their last five games. They made one Wednesday, but still managed a 5-1 victory.

“We’re constantly trying to rush things and get the lead runner rather than just getting an out,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose pitchers made fielding errors in four straight games prior to Wednesday. “When that happens, you end up trying to go too quick. Before you catch the ball, you’re turning.”

The defending AL Central champions snapped a three-game losing streak with Wednesday’s victory and pulled within 5 1/2 games of first-place Kansas City.

Jacque Jones went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Shannon Stewart went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Jones is hitting .400 (18-for-45) with eight RBIs in 13 games since returning from a strained left groin injury on July 17. Stewart is hitting .426 (20-for-47) since being acquired from Toronto on July 16.

The Orioles have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games following a season-high six-game win streak.

STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 14 GB, AL East. Twins - 3rd place, 5 1/2 GB, AL Central.

ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Johnson (8-5, 3.75 ERA). Johnson lost 5-3 at Toronto on Friday, giving up four earned runs and seven hits, while striking out six, in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander came in with victories in three of his previous four decisions.

TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Kenny Rogers (8-5, 4.94 ERA). Rogers didn’t get the decision in the Twins’ 6-5 win at Cleveland on Friday, giving up four earned runs and eight hits over six innings. The left-hander was coming off a 6-4 home victory over Oakland on July 20 that ended a personal two-game slide. Rogers is 10-7 all-time against the Orioles with a 4.36 ERA in 41 games, including 23 starts. He is also 5-2 with a 4.34 ERA at home this season.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 19 HRs; Jeff Conine, 74 RBIs and 63 runs; Brian Roberts, 17 SBs. Twins - Jones, .313 avg.; Torii Hunter, 18 HRs and 66 RBIs; Hunter and Jones, 53 runs; Carlos Guzman, 12 SBs.


STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - Baltimore has lost six of the last eight meetings with Minnesota. … CF Luis Matos, who drove in the lone run Wednesday, is batting .172 (5-for-29) with three RBIs over his last seven games. … SS Mora has missed the last two games with a sore right hand. Twins - The Twins’ five straight games with at least one error is the team’s longest such streak since last Aug. 19-23. … With an 9-16 record in July, Minnesota needs to win Thursday to avoid its first month without double-digit wins since going 7-21 in September 1999. … RF Michael Restovich, recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, made his second consecutive start, and went 1-for-3.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 23-30 on the road; Twins - 29-26 at home.

INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; SS Mora (right hand), day-to-day; OF-DH B.J. Surhoff (quadriceps), 15-day DL. Twins - INF Corey Koskie (back), 15-day DL; OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Johnson NYY vs. K. Rogers Det
10-10 Record 13-8
4.18 ERA 4.57
118 K 116
80 BB 50
1.56 WHIP 1.42