As if things weren’t going bad enough for the Baltimore Orioles, they’re about to run into a two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Minnesota starter Johan Santana will look to build off one of the most dominant outings of his career Friday when the Twins continue their four-game series with the stumbling Orioles.
The Twins (64-63) beat the Orioles 5-2 in Thursday’s opener, sending Baltimore to its third straight loss. Baltimore (58-68) gave up three unearned runs in a four-run eighth inning, a day after allowing a major league-record 39 runs in a doubleheader loss to Texas - including an AL-record 30 in the first game.
“I’m not so sure if they won or we lost,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “They got the hits at the end there, but it was after the horse was out of the barn, so to speak.”
The frustrating three-game losing streak started just hours after the Orioles announced Trembley’s contract extension into 2008. Trembley held a team meeting before Thursday’s game, but it didn’t seem to do much good.
“Our focus was to review Minnesota,” the manager said. “But if there was a key element of the talk, it was called pride.”
Perhaps the only bright spot was Kevin Millar, who walked twice and broke Ken Singleton’s 1977 club record by reaching base in his 50th consecutive game.
Now, the Orioles will have to deal with Santana (13-9, 2.88 ERA), who struck out a franchise-record 17 batters and allowed just two hits in eight innings of Sunday’s 1-0 win over Texas. His 17 strikeouts were the most in the majors since Ben Sheets fanned 18 in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win over Atlanta on May 16, 2004 and broke the team record of 15, accomplished four times.
Santana, who reached double digits in strikeouts for the fifth time this season, used primarily fastballs and changeups, throwing only four breaking balls.
“His fastball and changeup were so good. His fastball was in and out and jumping so much,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official team Web site. “His changeup was as good as I’ve ever seen it. He had command of two pitches and really didn’t need the other one that much. It’s pretty amazing to go on just constantly two pitches.”
Santana, the AL player of the week, improved to 20-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 28 August starts since 2003. The two-time Cy Young Award winner ranks second in the majors with 191 strikeouts.
“I didn’t try to do anything different, I was just trying to stay aggressive, get ahead in the count and throw my fastball for strikes,” he said.
Santana is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in nine career appearances - six starts - against the Orioles.
The Twins have won six of their last nine, but are 6 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland. Jason Kubel drove in a pair of runs Thursday, and starter Boof Bonser earned his first win since June 10.
“They gave us an extra out and we did what we had to do with that extra out,” said Nick Punto, who went 2-for-4 with two runs.
The Twins will face Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.44), who is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in four August starts after winning his final three in July. However, he pitched very well in his last start on Sunday, allowing just two runs in eight innings of Baltimore’s 3-2, 10-inning loss at Toronto.
“I just had really good command,” Guthrie told the Orioles’ team site. “When you have good command with your fastball, good things can happen. … It builds confidence when you have it, work with it, and turns out it was a pretty good game.”
All four of Guthrie’s losses this season have come at home, where he owns a 3.80 ERA in 11 appearances. He is 5-0 with a 3.16 ERA in 16 road outings.
Guthrie has made two career relief appearances against Minnesota, including one on April 4, allowing two runs in 5 1-3 total innings without getting a decision.
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