The Twins battered Orioles pitching last week in Baltimore, during a series in which they outscored them 32-6.
And they showed on Friday that they weren’t done with them, swatting three consecutive long home runs off Alex Cobb in the first inning on the way to another easy victory, this time 6-1.
Max Kepler added a home run off Cobb in the fourth, making it the first time Cobb had allowed four homers in 146 career starts.
In four games this season, the Twins have hit a whopping 16 home runs off Orioles pitchers. And before you think it’s a case of beating up on Baltimore, think again. The Twins have hit 42 home runs in 23 games this season. That’s a pace of 296, which would obliterate the club record of 225 set in 1963.
“The guys swung the bats well, I don’t know any other way to say it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The at-bats were good. I think Polo’s long at-bat kind of set the tone for what was going on, and the guys followed behind him and put a few balls out of the ballpark. To have that kind of cushion is nice.”
“Polo” is Jorge Polanco, who went 0-for-3 on Friday but nevertheless had a profound effect on the first inning despite grounding out. It came at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat during which he fouled off four straight pitches. His teammates saw him battle. They also saw everything Cobb had on Friday and how he was using it.
“You see a lot of pitches from the guy in front of you,” said Nelson Cruz, who belted home runs off Cobb and Gabriel Ynoa. “It gives you a good idea of what to expect. It’s basically what’s working for him.”
Cruz got a 2-2 knuckle-curve and belted it over the center-field wall for the first run of the game. Rosario was next, and he had even more information when he dug in.
“I saw video of a couple of my at bats [against] him,” Rosario said. “Every time, first pitch [was a] curveball. I missed the first time in the last game in Baltimore. But tonight I don’t miss it.”
Rosario smoked the first pitch out to center for a 2-0 lead and his AL-leading 11th homer. C.J. Cron followed with a 430-foot blast to left. The Twins hit 1,252 feet of home runs in the first inning and led 3-0. It was the first time the Twins hit back-to-back-to-back home runs since Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Max Kepler did it June 26, 2016, at Yankee Stadium.
“Everyday someone comes and do something special,” Cruz said, “but everything starts with the pitching. That’s the key.”
In 6⅔ innings over two outings this month, Cobb has given up seven home runs to the Twins.
Cruz’s second homer of the night came in the fifth as the Twins increased their lead to 6-1. It also was the 29th multi-homer game of Cruz’s career.
Twins lefthander Martin Perez retired the first nine batters he faced and kept the game scoreless until the sixth when Dwight Smith Jr. drove in a run with a single. In six innings, Perez held the Orioles to one run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He improved to 3-0 with a 4.44 ERA.
It certainly helps when the offense has scored 22 runs over his past two starts.
“I mean, yeah, of course,” Perez said. “You give up a couple runs and you go out there and your teammates support you. It’s good because they’re going to fight for you."