“We love it. We hit the long ball last night, and tonight we’re stealing bases and hitting balls in the infield. It’s great. We play the game,” said starting pitcher Boof Bonser, who left with the score tied after six innings.
Tyner then came home on the blooper by Bartlett, one of the scrappy contact hitters who frustrated Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen so much last year he nicknamed them the “piranhas”—after the pesky, exotic fish featuring dangerously sharp teeth.
“It’s just a good team,” Tyner said. “We can hit for power. We can manufacture runs.”
Though he walked three and threw only 59 of his 100 pitches for strikes, Bonser retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced and struck out six. He gave up three hits and two runs, making manager Ron Gardenhire proud of the way he kept his composure through a difficult inning.
Minnesota didn’t make much contact against Cabrera, who struck out nine and gave up six hits and three runs in seven innings while walking four. The Twins found the solution on the bases, taking advantage of the 6-foot-9 Cabrera’s long arm and slow leg kick for five steals.
“They’re a great little team,” Orioles designated hitter Kevin Millar said. “They’re very fundamentally sound. They pitch, they pitch and they pitch, and they’ve got enough offensively that they match up well.”
Though Cabrera finished third in voting for AL Rookie of the Year in 2004, the lanky Dominican has not yet put together a consistent season.
One of the wildest pitchers in the majors over the past three years, Cabrera walked 104 batters in only 148 innings in 2006. Control problems put him in trouble in the fifth, when Hunter and Jason Kubel each reached base on four balls. Hunter scored when a high chop with two outs by Luis Castillo glanced off Cabrera’s glove and bounced behind the mound for a generous base hit that tied the game at 2.
Baltimore just hasn’t gotten any breaks yet.
“If we catch a little dribbler back at the mound, we save a run,” manager Sam Perlozzo lamented. “A bat shatters into 30 pieces, and they get another run. Those are the kind of things that didn’t go our way.”
For all his struggles, Cabrera, who was two outs from a no-hitter last September at Yankee Stadium, has always impressed the Twins. With a 5-2 record and 3.33 ERA in eight career starts, he has won more games against Minnesota than any other opponent.
Throwing his fastball routinely in the mid-90 mph range, Cabrera escaped after allowing singles to the first two Twins he faced in the fourth.
Michael Cuddyer’s smash up the middle was snagged by diving shortstop Tejada, who shoveled the ball perfectly to second baseman Brian Roberts to start a double play. Justin Morneau struck out, and that was it for the inning. Cabrera didn’t allow an extra-base hit in 110 pitches.
“I never thought I’d go that long the first start. That’s a good start for me,” Cabrera said.
Cuddyer is 1-for-8 with five strikeouts and a double play this season. … Castillo made his first start for Baltimore. He was called up as insurance behind starter Ramon Hernandez, who is resting a strained oblique muscle. Paul Bako played the opener.