When C.J. Cron belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning, the first baseman gave the Twins a one-run lead and appeared to have saved the day.
All he did was provoke his teammates.
The Minnesota Lumber Company turned on the power again, swatting five more home runs Saturday on the way to a 9-2 pounding of the Orioles, which is becoming redundant. It’s their 11th consecutive victory over Baltimore going back to last season.
After Cron went deep, the Twins smashed four more home runs and now have 47 in 24 games. Astoundingly, 21 of those have come in five games in the past eight days against the Orioles. That’s one shy of the Twins’ club record against Baltimore in a season, set in 1962 and 1964 — back when the teams met 18 times a year.
“It’s great when we leave the game close, like we did,” said Twins righthander Jose Berrios, who gave up two runs over six innings to improve to 4-1. “We know we’ve got a really good group. They like to hit. Everybody knows they can hit, so the only thing is to just go wait, and they execute their plan to hit against the pitcher.”
The Orioles got Berrios with run-scoring singles by Rio Ruiz in the fourth inning and Hanser Alberto in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Up to that point, the Twins had some good at-bats develop into nothing. But that was about to change.
Nelson Cruz led off the sixth with a double to right. Eddie Rosario, at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat, hit a fly ball deep enough to center to enable Cruz to advance to third.
That brought up Cron, who got ahead 2-1 against Baltimore lefthander Paul Fry, then fouled off three pitches before running the count full. Fry threw a slider that broke back over the middle of the plate, and Cron rifled it into the seats in left for a two-run homer and 3-2 lead.
“I think I missed a few pitches I probably should’ve hit earlier in the count,” Cron said. “It was good to see what he had, kind of, and the longer that at bat drew out the better I felt out there.”
Cron worked Fry for a nine-pitch at-bat — the sixth time the Twins had a plate appearance go as long as eight pitches. In addition to Cron and Rosario, Jorge Polanco twice had eight-pitch at-bats, Marwin Gonzalez had one last eight and Jonathan Schoop battled for nine in another.
Cron, who finished 2-for-4, became the fifth Twins player with five home runs this season — and it wasn’t that way for long.
Max Kepler hit a two-run homer off Tanner Scott in the seventh, becoming the sixth Twins player to reach five homers. In the eighth, Gonzalez broke a 0-for-19 slump with a towering home run to right-center. That was the first of three homers in the inning, as Jason Castro hit a two-run homer that went nearly the same spot as Gonzalez’s and Kepler hit his second in as many innings. Grinding through at-bats early paid off late.
“There are going to be days where we’re going to make some quick outs and the games going to go by quickly,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, “but you can see when you do have those consistent good at-bats all the way up and down the lineup, all nine guys, that it does have an effect.”