Friday, April 8, 2016

Jimenez superb as O's sweep Twins

 Anchored by a fantastic seven-inning outing from Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles rallied for four late runs to sweep the Twins 4-2 on Thursday night.
"It was a good, crisp night. His tempo and rhythm were good. I thought he deserved an opportunity to go back out there," manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez's seventh and final frame. "He was the key to the game. You can go through a lot of different things in that game, but Ubaldo was the key."
Baltimore took the lead after a 21-minute rain delay in the bottom of the seventh inning. After starter Phil Hughes' exit, Trevor May's wild pitch scored Mark Trumbo, and Jonathan Schoop's one-out RBI single plated J.J. Hardy to make it 3-2. Both runs were charged to Hughes, who struck out four and also surrendered a solo homer to Manny Machado.
Red-hot Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard added an insurance run with his first career Major League homer -- and curtain call -- off May in the eighth.
Joe Mauer put the Twins on the board with a first-inning solo homer, while center fielderByron Buxton -- who made a leaping grab to rob Schoop of a homer -- had an RBI groundout in the second.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bundy returns: The Orioles' second-best pitching prospect, Dylan Bundy, made his first appearance since 2012 with a scoreless eighth inning. The right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery in 2012, surrendered one hit in a long-awaited comeback outing.
"Even though it's been four years, it seems like just the other day I was doing it," Bundy said of pitching in the big leagues. "But I was nervous. I think everybody saw that. I didn't really have my fastball command, but it was still fun to get back out there since it's been so long."
Mauer power: Mauer hit his first homer of the year. It came on a 2-0 fastball up in the zone from Jimenez in the first inning. Mauer didn't hit his first homer of the season until May 20 last year. He nearly tied the game in the eighth with a deep drive to left field, but Nolan Reimold made a catch up against the wall.
"Jimenez hasn't been a great matchup for him in the past, but he got off to a great start his first couple at-bats," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "His at-bats have been consistent the first three games. He almost got another one there to tie the game, but it came up just short in left-center."
Jimenez goes the distance: Despite allowing a pair of early runs -- only one of which was earned -- Jimenez was able to battle his way through seven frames. The righty turned in the longest outing by a Orioles starter yet, striking out nine and retiring 14 of his final 16 batters.
"I've been feeling good. I mean, it's not just tonight, it's been the whole Spring Training," Jimenez said. "I've been able to command the fastball and get ahead and stay ahead on hitters, and definitely I brought it to the game tonight."
Buxton robs Schoop: Hughes gave up a deep drive to center to Schoop in the fifth inning, but Buxton was able to race back to the wall and make a leaping catch to rob him of a potential homer. Schoop, though, got the best of Buxton in the seventh, when he singled up the middle and Buxton couldn't get the ball out of his glove, allowing Hardy to score the go-ahead run from second.
"He had no chance on it," Molitor said of Buxton's decision not to throw home. "It looked like the grass killed it a little bit. He's as aggressive as anyone coming in on a ball. It just didn't have enough steam to give him an opportunity.''
QUOTABLE
"The outcome hasn't been what we're looking for, but a lot of guys went through this last year and we're not going to panic. We have the talent in here to win a lot of games. We just have to turn the page." -- Hughes on the Twins getting swept like last year, when they opened the season 1-6.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mauer's homer was the third-earliest of his 13-year career, and the earliest since he hit a homer in the second game of the season in 2010 against the Angels. The earliest he ever homered was in his debut during his MVP season in '09, but that came on May 1 after he missed the first month of the season because of a back injury.
RICKARD'S CURTAIN CALL
The rookie blasted a solo homer off May to start the eighth inning, sending a 1-0 pitch over the center-field wall for his first career homer. With the Camden Yards crowd chanting, "Joey, Joey," Rickard poked his head out of the dugout for a brief curtain call, sending fans into cheers. Rickard, the O's feel-good story this spring, is batting .455 through his first three career games.
WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: The Twins head to Kansas City for a three-game series against the Royals on Friday. Right-hander Ervin Santana is slated to make his second start of the year, as he saw his outing pushed up two days after throwing only 39 pitches on Opening Day because of a rain delay.
Orioles: Chris Tillman takes the mound Friday on three days rest as the Orioles welcome the Tampa Bay Rays. Tillman pitched in Monday's opener but lasted only two innings due to rain. He was impressive in that small stint, striking out five of six batters.

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