The Minnesota Twins are trying to match their longest winning streak of the season. That won’t be any easy feat against Baltimore starter Erik Bedard, who is looking to win his 10th straight decision.
The Twins go for a fifth consecutive victory as they conclude a four-game series with the Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards.
Minnesota (66-63) has outscored opponents 28-11 while batting .310 during its four-game winning streak, including an 8-1 win over Baltimore (58-70) on Saturday. Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer and Jason Bartlett went 4-for-4 with two RBIs for the Twins, who have won all six meetings against the Orioles this season and the last eight overall.
The win may have come at a price as reigning AL batting champion Joe Mauer left the game in the eighth inning after experiencing left hamstring tightness while running the bases.
“We’re going to go day-to-day with his hamstring,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team is trying to tie its season-high, five-game winning streak set May 27-June 1. “We’ll know more (Sunday) how he’s doing.”
Mike Redmond was already scheduled to catch for Minnesota in the finale and is 2-for-3 with a double during his career versus Bedard (13-4, 2.97 ERA).
The Orioles have won all of Bedard’s last 12 starts, with the left-hander going 9-0 with a 2.20 ERA and .168 opponent batting average. He has 106 strikeouts during that stretch compared to 21 walks and hasn’t lost since June 10 against Colorado.
“It’s a combination of luck and throwing good here and there and getting through the game,” said Bedard, who has allowed three or fewer runs in 20 of his last 21 starts.
Bedard held Texas to two runs and five hits over seven innings in a 6-2 win on Tuesday. He didn’t issue a walk and struck out 11 to bring his major league-leading strikeout total to 218, matching Mike Mussina’s club record set in 1997.
Bedard’s .210 opponent batting average is the lowest in the AL, and he is tied with Minnesota’s Johan Santana for the third-best ERA.
“I think we just appreciate it more and more every time he goes out there,” manager Dave Trembley told the Orioles’ official Web site. “I think it’s just showing how special of a season he’s had and really what he’s done. The amount of times we’ve gone out there and won when he pitches, it’s a heck of a streak.”
The 28-year-old southpaw hasn’t had as much luck versus the Twins, going 0-4 with a 3.99 ERA in six career starts—tied for his most losses against any team. He gave up six runs and 10 hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 7-4 defeat on April 2.
Bedard will try to help the Orioles snap a five-game skid during which they have been outscored 59-17 and posted an 11.20 ERA. Corey Patterson went 4-for-5 on Saturday and Kevin Millar singled in the second inning to extend his club-record streak of reaching base via a hit, walk or hit by pitch to 52 consecutive games.
Scott Baker (6-6, 4.50) takes the mound for Minnesota after flying back from Louisiana, where his wife gave birth to a boy on Friday night. After winning back-to-back starts versus Kansas City and Cleveland, the right-hander has gone 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA over his last three outings.
He allowed three runs and a career-high 14 hits, including two homers, over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-2 defeat to Seattle on Tuesday.
Baker didn’t receive a decision in his only career start versus the Orioles, allowing four runs through 3 2-3 innings of an 8-5 Minnesota win on Sept. 23, 2006.