The Baltimore Orioles haven’t won consecutive games at Minnesota since 2004. This appears to be an opportune time for them to end that drought.
After snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Twins, the Orioles look to again take advantage of a matchup with Minnesota when the teams play the middle game of their series Wednesday night at the Metrodome.
Baltimore (28-29) had lost five straight and six of seven away from Camden Yards entering a nine-game road trip, but it won the series opener 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The Orioles, who hadn’t beaten the Twins anywhere since Sept. 22, 2006, are now in position to win two straight at Minnesota (30-28) for the first time since Sept. 17-18, 2004.
Baltimore is facing a Twins team that has struggled at home in recent weeks. Minnesota failed to keep pace with the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central on Tuesday, falling 1 1/2 games back, and has now lost eight of its last 12 at the Metrodome.
The Twins managed just six hits Tuesday, with cleanup hitter Justin Morneau going 1-for-4 and playing first base despite a sore left knee and a sore calf. Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said he might give Morneau a day or two at DH to let him rest.
“Sure, there are designated hitter days that I can give him, but right now he’d rather be out there playing,” Gardenhire told Minnesota’s official Web site.
Shortstop Nick Punto, meanwhile, did not start Tuesday after tweaking his strained left hamstring. He said the injury isn’t as bad as when he went on the disabled list three weeks ago, and hopes to be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Punto would be playing behind Glen Perkins (2-2, 3.90 ERA), who is coming off the worst start of his career. He gave up five runs and 10 hits in four innings in a 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday.
The left-hander, in his first season as a starter, had given up three runs or less in each of his previous four starts.
Perkins has faced the Orioles twice in relief, allowing two hits while retiring two batters.
Baltimore will counter with Daniel Cabrera (5-1, 3.60 ERA), who has given up three runs or less in nine of his last 10 starts. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings as Baltimore lost 5-2 in 13 innings against Boston on Friday night.
The right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts against Minnesota.
George Sherrill, who has earned saves in two of the games Cabrera has won, has picked up saves in consecutive games after going 16 days between opportunities. The left-hander has allowed just one run in his last 10 appearances, spanning 9 1-3 innings, striking out 10 while converting all six of his save opportunities during that stretch.
“I really don’t care about saves,” said Sherrill, second in the AL with 19 saves. “If I get them, that means we are winning. It’s good for us to stop the bleeding a little bit, and good for me to get back out there.”