Morneau delivers game-winning hit in 9th
- Blog Post by: Phil Miller
- April 6, 2013 - 9:27 PM
BALTIMORE -- Justin Morneau grounded a Jim Johnson changeup through the Orioles' infield, scoring Aaron Hicks with the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and the Twins won in Camden Yards for the first time since 2011, 6-5 over the Orioles.
Morneau's third hit of the night raised his average to .389 and made a winner of reliever Josh Roenicke, who held a streaking Baltimore offense to just one hit over three innings. Glen Perkins retired all three hitters he faced in the ninth, including Manny Machado on a sliding catch by Chris Parmelee, to earn the Twins' first victory in Baltimore since April 21, 2011.
Hicks, now 1-for-22 to open the season, started the rally by reaching base on an error by Chris Davis, whose home run streak was stopped at four games. After a Joe Mauer strikeout -- his third of the game -- Josh Willingham walked, setting up Morneau's go-ahead hit.
The Twins' offense took advantage of a pitcher who has been battling injury lately, knocking around Chris Tillman for five runs in 3 2/3 innings on the same day he came of the disabled list. An abdominal strain had sidelined Tillman, a nine-game winner a year ago, since March 25, and it became evident early on that the layoff had affected his command.
Tillman walked two hitters in the second inning, and another in the third and fourth innings, adding fuel to the Twins' offense that also collected seven hits off the righthander. Minnesota got a single from Justin Morneau and a double from Ryan Doumit to set up Brian Dozier's second-inning sacrifice fly. An inning later, Doumit brought home a run with a single, Trevor Plouffe hit a sacrifice fly, and Parmelee followed by depositing an 86-mph cutter from Tillman deep into the right-center stands, his first home run of the season.
But those five runs were all the Twins could piece together until the ninth, thanks to strong work from the Baltimore bullpen. Lefthander T.J. McFarland's big-league debut was an impressive one; he relieved Tillman and retired 10 of the 11 hitters he faced, striking out five. And Darren O'Day, after hitting Plouffe with a fastball, retired the next two hitters, and let Weiters end the inning by throwing out pinch-runner Eduardo Escobar trying to steal.
Vance Worley allowed five runs, four of them earned, in five innings, and his outing followed a simple pattern. The first six hitters in Baltimore's lineup feasted, combining for nine hits and a walk in 15 plate appearances. But Worley dominated the bottom three batters, holding them to a combined 1-for-10. The pattern meant he had to work his way through 23-, 22- and 26-pitch innings in the first, third and fifth -- giving up two runs, one run and two runs -- but coasted with an eight- and a nine-pitch inning in the second and fourth.
Worley turned the game over to Josh Roenicke, who saved the Twins' bullpen by pitching three shutout innings. Most impressive: With the go-ahead run on second in the seventh inning, he retired Adam Jones on a fly out, pitched around Davis, and got Weiters on a fly out to end the threat. Josh Willingham, whose first-inning dive came up short, tried it again and gloved Weiters' pop a foot off the ground.
© 2013 Star Tribune