Twins’ sweep creates tie atop AL Central
BALTIMORE (AP)—Now that they’re sharing first place in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins are not ready to slow down yet.
Justin Morneau and Carlos Gomez drove in two runs each during a six-run first inning and the Twins moved into a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night by completing a doubleheader sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 12-6 victory.
“We can’t worry about the White Sox. We can’t get caught up in what they’re doing,” Twins outfielder Denard Span said. “We pretty much feel that as long as we take care of our business, play our own game, then everything will be what we want at the end.”
The Twins entered the day trailing the White Sox by a game. A second consecutive day of rain forced Chicago to postpone its scheduled home doubleheader against Detroit on Saturday and the teams will play a split doubleheader Sunday—if the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which are tracking toward the Upper Midwest, do not interfere.
In the nightcap, Minnesota picked up where it left off following a 12-2 rout in the opener.
The Twins knocked Orioles starter Garrett Olson (9-8) out after two-thirds of an inning and 27 pitches. It was the shortest outing of Olson’s career.
“I wish we could have done the top of the first inning over again,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “I know Olson wishes he could. … The starting pitching sets the tone of the game and starting pitching in game two was not where it needed to be.”
Span led off the game with a single to left, Matt Tolbert walked and, after a double steal, Olson hit Mike Redmond with a pitch to load the bases. Morneau laced a two-run single to right and Randy Ruiz made it 3-0 with a single to center.
“The first inning can make or break a starter sometimes,” Olson said. “It was location. Stuff was not an issue. … A couple of pitches I could have gotten down more.”
The big first inning provided enough of a cushion for the Twins—even though the Orioles got as close as 10-6 after three innings.
“That was big, getting off to a good start. You have to give them credit. They didn’t stop playing, they battled the whole game. They made it tough on us,” said Morneau, who increased his RBI total to 124, tying AL leader Josh Hamilton of Texas. “We held on. It was a little more nerve-racking than the score showed, but it was a big two wins and now we’re tied for first place. That one ahead in the win column is pretty big.”
Baltimore has lost 17 of 20 games and fell to a season-worst 17 games under .500. Poor pitching has been the constant and Trembley had to use 10 pitchers in Saturday’s two games.
“How many darn trips have I made from the dugout? I’m wearing a darn path out from the dugout to the mound. … Right now, it is a tough pill to swallow,” Trembley said.
Bobby Korecky (2-0) picked up the victory with 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief. Minnesota’s bullpen didn’t allow a run over the final six innings.
Harris also homered for Minnesota.
In the second, Tolbert tripled and scored on Redmond’s single to left. Span hit an RBI single and scored on Tolbert’s second triple to make it 9-2 in the third. Redmond then singled home Tolbert.
“I think there was pressure the whole game,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We loaded the bases it seemed like every stinking inning. I think the game never felt like it was easy even though we had a 10-2 lead.”
Harris led off the seventh with a solo homer off Rocky Cherry.
Perkins allowed six runs on five hits over three innings. He walked two and struck out two.
In the opener, Span homered twice and drove in four runs, Gomez had a career-high four RBIs. Morneau reached base five times with four hits and a walk and had two RBIs.
Scott Baker (9-4) walked three, struck out four and allowed only one hit over his final five innings of the opener. He has won two of three starts after a string of six winless outings.
The Twins jumped on Daniel Cabrera (8-10) for a quick 1-0 lead in the first and Span’s solo shot, a towering drive onto the right-field flag court, ignited a three-run third for a 4-1 lead.
Cabrera allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked five and struck out one.
Before the doubleheader, the Twins activated OF Michael Cuddyer (broken left foot) from the 15-day disabled list. Cuddyer is still unable to run pain-free and will be used only as a pinch hitter. He bounced out as a pinch hitter in the ninth in the opener. … Cabrera has walked an AL-high 90 batters. Last season, he led the league with 108 walks. … In the nightcap, Baltimore allowed a first-inning run for the 66th time this season, the 19th time in 30 games. … Minnesota has won eight straight at Camden Yards. … LHP Brian Burres pitched in both games, becoming the first Oriole to work two games of a doubleheader since Jason Grimsley and B.J. Ryan on Sept. 29, 2004, against Toronto.