BALTIMORE – Guess the Twins were right. Their confidence wasn’t shaken after a rough three days in New York.
They shook off getting swept in the Bronx big-time on Thursday night, when they routed the Orioles 15-2 to open a four-game series at Oriole Park in Camden Yards. The Twins waited out a rain delay of more than 2½ hours to set a season high in runs while banging out 18 hits.
“Over the course of the night, top to bottom, we had a good offensive night,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Rookie righthander Tyler Duffey took a shutout into the eighth inning to win his second consecutive start.
The Twins erupted for five runs off Baltimore righthander Miguel Gonzalez (9-9) in the second inning. Eddie Rosario dropped a bunt down the third-base line — in front of the slick-fielding Manny Machado — to load the bases with nobody out.
“The conditions could not have been any better,” Molitor said. “You got a wet field, grass that hugs the foul line. It’s one of those places where if you have an opportunity, you should keep it in the back of your mind.”
Torii Hunter fell behind 0-2 but ended up drawing a bases-loaded walk; Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run single; and Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier added run-scoring hits as the Twins took a 5-0 lead.
Miguel Sano crushed a two-run homer to left in the fifth to put the Twins ahead 7-0. He jumped on Gonzalez’s first pitch for his third two-run homer in the first four games of this 10-game road trip. Sano has 10 home runs in 41 games since being called up in July.
Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run double in the seventh to make it 9-0. Rosario’s two-run single was part of a five-run eighth. Escobar added a solo homer in the ninth.
On a night in the which the Twins were excited about the long-awaited pairing of Sano and Byron Buxton on their roster and in their lineup, Duffey asked to be recognized as well.
Duffey didn’t disappoint in his third major league start, making mincemeat of the Orioles lineup and benefiting from the run support.
Fearless with his curveball, Duffey got swings and misses on it all night long. Seven of his eight strikeouts came on the pitch. He threw the hammer at any point of the count — and threw it at three speeds to throw off hitters.
“That’s been my game since, forever,” said Duffey (2-1). “Through college, everywhere. I don’t know if I do something different than everyone else.”
Duffey shook off nearly getting beheaded in the fourth, when Adam Jones’ liner came right back at him. He put up his glove and spun out of the way as he caught the ball for the first out. The entire infield came in to check on him. He promptly struck out the next two batters.
“It woke me up, that’s for sure,” Duffey said.
In 7⅔ innings, Duffey gave up two runs on 10 hits and no walks with the eight strikeouts.
The Twins needed to distance themselves from their sweep against the Yankees, when their bullpen failed to protect leads Monday and Tuesday night. Maybe the Orioles are just what they need. The Twins have won all four of their meetings with Baltimore this season.
“The road trip started roughly with winnable games that we let slip by,” Molitor said. “We were able to come back tonight after a lengthy delay and put a good game together.”