It's been nearly 11 months since the last time the Baltimore Orioles visited Minnesota, and that's probably just fine with the Twins.
Jim Thome 's final game in a Twins uniform was the same day as the Orioles' last visit, but he's made frequent trips back to haunt Minnesota.
Losers of 10 of 14 overall, Thome and the Orioles look to get well Monday night when they open a four-game series against the slumping Twins, whom they've defeated seven consecutive times.
Atop the AL East as recently as early June, Baltimore (46-42) is now eight games behind the Yankees as its offense scuffles. After a brief breakout in Saturday's 8-6 victory over Detroit, the Orioles reverted to recent form Sunday as Justin Verlander dominated them for eight innings of a 4-0 home defeat that was their fourth loss in five games - three of them shutouts.
Thome was the only major bright spot for Baltimore's lineup, accounting for three of the team's four hits including the only double.
If Thome's bat stays hot, it will be an all-too familiar sight for the Twins (36-52). This will be the veteran slugger's ninth game against Minnesota with his third different club since being dealt to Cleveland last August. He made the most of the first eight - five with the Indians in September and three with Philadelphia last month - going 11 for 26 (.423) with four homers and 14 RBIs.
Thome went 5 for 11 with two homers, nine RBIs and four runs scored to help the Phillies take two of three at Target Field from June 12-14."I've always enjoyed playing here," Thome said after the finale of that series. "And I've had some success here."
So have the Orioles. Baltimore swept four games in Minnesota last Aug. 22-25, outscoring the Twins 24-4. Thome went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the final game, and the Twins traded him later that day.
The Orioles extended their winning streak over the Twins with a three-game sweep at Camden Yards from April 6-8 to open the season. They've limited Minnesota to two runs or fewer in each of their seven consecutive victories in the series.
Chris Tillman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will try to extend that run when he gets the ball for Baltimore on Monday. The onetime top prospect had been 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA in 36 major league starts over three seasons, but excelled in his 2012 debut July 4 at Seattle, allowing two unearned runs and two hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 4-2 victory.
"I feel like, in the past, I haven't been as confident as I am right now," Tillman told the Orioles' official website. "With what happened in my delivery, I feel like it's there for me now and I'm able to repeat it with all my pitches. I'm very confident right now, just got to keep it that way and keep working."
He'll be opposed by Scott Diamond (7-3, 2.62), who has been a bright spot for the Twins by allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts including his last three. The left-hander limited Detroit to two runs over seven innings in his last outing July 5, but failed to get a decision after the bullpen squandered a lead and Minnesota lost 7-3.
Losers of five straight, the Twins will need some strong innings out of Diamond after starters Brian Duensing and Cole De Vries combined to allow 13 runs over seven innings in the final two contests of a three-game weekend sweep to Oakland."Our offense is doing the job, our bullpen is doing the job," Duensing said after Sunday's 9-4 defeat. "The starting pitching right now is really struggling and not putting our team in a good spot."
Justin Morneau singled for Minnesota on Sunday, and is batting .315 (17 for 54) during a 13-game hitting streak.
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|June 13, 2012||Endy Chavez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|June 13, 2012||Brian Matusz||Day-to-Day||Bruised nose|
|June 24, 2012||Matt Capps||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 24, 2012||Matt Capps||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 17, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right quadricep|
|June 16, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Sore left hamstring|
|June 15, 2012||Justin Morneau||Day-to-Day||Left forearm injury|
|June 14, 2012||P.J. Walters||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins are mostly out of postseason contention.
Ben Revere and Denard Span can still put on quite the skills competition.
Span had three hits and five RBIs, plus two highlight-reel catches in center field to help the Twins stop their five-game losing streak and beat the Baltimore Orioles 19-7 on Monday night.
Revere made two remarkable running grabs himself in right field to go with four hits and three RBIs, Joe Mauer homered and drove in two runs and Justin Morneau had four of Minnesota's 20 hits to stretch his hitting streak to a season-long 14 straight games.
"We've been taking a few beatings lately. It's nice to be on this side of one," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Chris Tillman (1-1) gave up seven runs in the first and didn't finish the inning, the shortest appearance by an Orioles starter in almost a year. Six of the runs were unearned, due an untimely two-out error by first baseman Mark Reynolds . He hit a three-run homer off Scott Diamond (8-3), but the Twins starter won his third straight decision thanks to the big early lead - and that pitcher-friendly defense.
"Basically having a center fielder in right field, it's huge for us because it just allows you to force the hitters to put balls in play," Diamond said.
Tillman turned in a stellar start for the Orioles on July 4, surrendering only two hits and two unearned runs over a career-high 8 1/3 innings at Seattle, but this time was just the opposite of that.
Baseball games are rarely determined so early, but a pair of plays in the field in the first inning essentially decided this one.
With two on and no outs, Adam Jones drove what would've been a double or a triple hard down the right-field line, but Revere raced toward the corner and came up with a fully outstretched catch to freeze the runners.
"The ball kind of tailed, kind of got in the sun a little bit, so I squinted my eyes and luckily I saw it," Revere said. "I dove and it landed in my glove."
Then, Matt Wieters bounced into a double play, keeping the Orioles from scoring at all, though manager Buck Showalter tried to downplay the effect of Revere's catch, as impressive as it was.
"I don't think when you give up 19 runs you can hang your hook on one play," Showalter said.
In the bottom of the frame, Revere doubled and scored on Mauer's single. The Twins eventually loaded the bases, but Tillman had two outs and a full count on Ryan Doumit . On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Doumit hit a chopper to first base that Reynolds awkwardly lunged toward with his backhand. The ball glanced off the edge of his glove, allowing two men to score and paving the way for Span's three-run double that capped the inning.
The Orioles and Twins sure packed a lot into this matchup, including a balk, an infield fly rule call and even a two-run infield single. That came courtesy of Revere, whose grounder up the middle skipped off second base in front of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who couldn't grab it in time to throw Span out at home and keep the Twins from taking a 10-2 lead in the third.
Span made a sprinting, sliding catch of a sinking liner to steal a single from Steve Tolleson in the sixth and sped back to nab J.J. Hardy's drive against the bullpen wall in the seventh. Revere also took an extra-base hit from Hardy with his second long run of the night, in the fifth.
"They can cover some ground out there," Reynolds said.
Span teased Revere, who is four years younger and a fellow first-round draft pick, about trying to one-up him.
"I said, `Hey, you're killing me, man.' Every time I try to make a catch he turns around and dives and flips," Span said.
Revere has been able to make up for a weak arm with elite range in right, where he's beginning to feel comfortable playing.
"It's going to make our team a lot better having me out there with him. We can cover so much ground," Revere said.
NOTES: RH Samuel Deduno (0-0, 5.06 ERA) makes his second career start for the Twins on Tuesday. He was added to the rotation right before the All-Star break. LH Zach Britton will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk by the Orioles and make his 2012 debut. He started the season on the DL with a left shoulder problem. ... The Orioles still haven't named a starter for Wednesday to fill RH Jason Hammel 's spot. Hammel had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Monday. ... The Twins are averaging 5.9 runs per game when Diamond starts, nearly two more than the rest of the rotation.