Twins look to maintain momentum against reeling Orioles

MLB Minneapolis

After winning a road series for the first time since the opening week of the season, the Minnesota Twins return to Minneapolis to open a six-game homestand on Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles in a battle of teams tied for the worst record in baseball at 17-29.

The Orioles are in last place in the American League East, 11 games behind Boston and Tampa Bay. The Twins are last in the Central and 9.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox.

Baltimore, which lost its sixth straight game, 6-5, at Washington on Sunday, will turn to left-hander John Means (4-0, 1.70 ERÅ) in Monday’s series opener. Means, who no-hit the Seattle Mariners on May 5, leads the American League in ERA (1.70) and will be making his first career start against Minnesota.

Right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-5, 6.08), who is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles, is on the mound for the Twins. Minnesota has won three of their past four games, including an 8-5 victory over the Indians in 10 innings on Sunday.

Kyle Garlick hit a three-run homer off Cleveland bullpen star James Karinchak in the 10th inning to break a 5-5 tie and give Minnesota its first extra-inning victory in nine tries this season.

Normally a platoon player against left-handed pitching, the right-handed Garlick took over in the seventh inning for Max Kepler after Kepler, who hit a three-run homer earlier in the contest, began experiencing hamstring tightness. It was his first Major League homer off a right-handed pitcher and was just the fourth hit allowed this season by Karinchak.

“Those are the kinds of moments you always remember,” said Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli. “I don’t care if he hits another 200 home runs in his career or not. That’s a swing he’ll remember, as he should.”

It was the fifth homer of the 29-year-old Garlick’s career and gave Minnesota a 3-2 record on a road trip that began with a doubleheader split on Thursday in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. That was followed by an overnight flight to Cleveland, where the Twins got to their hotel at 5:30 on Friday morning.

“It felt amazing,” Garlick said of his homer. “We’ve had some tough losses the past couple of weeks. We’re trying to get back on it. It’ll be a nice plane ride tonight and hopefully we can take some of this momentum into Minnesota.”

“He hit it good against a guy … he’s about as nasty as it gets,” said Baldelli. “He went out there and brought us that moment that we’ve been looking for in that extra-inning scenario.”

The Twins have a chance to build on that momentum with a two-week stretch that sees them play Baltimore six times and third-place Kansas City (22-23) seven times.

Baltimore is 2-13 since Means threw his no-hitter.

The Orioles scored three runs in the top of the first on Sunday only to see Matt Harvey surrender the lead by allowing four runs in the bottom of the first.

“We’re trying to stay positive,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “Obviously, this has been a tough few weeks. We’ll take some positives out of it, our offense. I want to believe that our bullpen is going to kind of pick it up a little bit. Hopefully, we can start pitching a little bit better, because our offensive approach looks like it’s improving.”

Baltimore first baseman Trey Mancini had his 13th multi-hit game in Sunday’s loss and leads the majors with 41 RBIs.

–Field Level Media

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