BALTIMORE—That talk of 0-and-21 can be silenced. For the first time in 16 days, the Orioles recorded a win on Tuesday night, and fans who lived through those 21 straight losses to begin the 1988 season won’t have to think about another streak that rivals it.
The 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins before 5,337 on the first night of full capacity at Oriole Park broke a 14-game losing streak that tied for the second longest in club history. The Orioles also dropped 14 straight from August 11-25, 1954. It was the longest losing streak in the major leagues since Houston lost 15 straight in September 2013.
“The last two weeks were obviously not great,” Trey Mancini said. “It was a really strange streak.
“Most of those games we were in. Things didn’t bounce our way. We were all pressing … Tonight we let it all go. It was June 1st and a natural reset for us, and we all decided to forget about May and come out strong in June.”
The win also broke a 16-game losing streak to the Twins dating to March 31, 2018.
Bruce Zimmermann (3-3), who was the winner in the last Orioles’ win on May 16th, pitched 5 1/3 innings for the victory. The Ellicott City native and Loyola Blakefield grad allowed two runs on six hits, walking two and striking out seven, the most in his career.
Cedric Mullins got the Orioles off to a fast start, leading off the first with a triple against Michael Piñeda (3-3). He scored on Mancini’s single.
In the top of the third, after Kyle Garlick’s fourth home run of the season tied it at 1 and Josh Donaldson followed with a two-out single, Nelson Cruz hit a long drive to center. Mullins ran the ball down and slid into the center field wall, holding on to it.
Manager Brandon Hyde said: “That was the best catch I’ve seen here in three years.”
Zimmermann seemed to hold his breath for a moment, then exhaled and pumped his fist as the score remained tied.
“I knew it was going to be borderline,” Zimmermann said. “In a situation like that, against a Cruz, it’s go after it, put the ball in play. It’s really nice to know you have a guy like Ced in center field that’s going to sacrifice himself and go for a ball like that. I think that was the turning point in the game.”
The Orioles (18-37) scored four runs in the third, taking a 5-1 lead. Mullins, Mancini, Anthony Santander and Freddy Galvis had consecutive one-out singles. Mancini and Galvis had RBIs. So did DJ Stewart with a grounder to second, and Ryan Mountcastle with an automatic double.
Pedro Severino’s second home run in the fourth put the Orioles ahead, 6-1.
In the sixth, the Twins (23-31) scored on doubles by Cruz and Alex Kiriloff. Dillon Tate relieved Zimmermann after a walk to Jorge Polanco and retired Miguel Sanó and Willians Astudillo on grounders to end the sixth.
Maikel Franco’s sixth home run in the sixth put the Orioles ahead, 7-2.
In the top of the seventh, Tate walked Garlick, hit Donaldson with a pitch and walked Cruz with one out. Tanner Scott came in, struck out Trevor Larnach before Kiriloff’s single scored Garlick. Polanco grounded into a force to end the inning.
César Valdez relieved Scott with one out in the eighth. Astudillo hit his first pitch for a home run. Andrelton Simmons singled and, in a strange sequence, began to run to second base when Valdez threw a wild to first on a pickoff attempt. But the ball hit off the wall and ricocheted to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle. Simmons, perhaps sensing he’d be thrown out at second, stopped running halfway to the base and was tagged out in a rundown by Valdez. Garlick then struck out to end the eighth.
With Paul Fry unavailable because he pitched the last two days, Hyde called on Cole Sulser to work the ninth for the first time this season.
Sulser walked Cruz with one out, and Larnach doubled. Sulser struck out Kiriloff, and Polanco flied to center after pulling an inside fastball deep but foul down the right-field line.
The Orioles were finally able to exhale.
“Probably a lot more relief than happiness at that point,” Hyde said. “Still probably irritated … It was ‘hold on tight’ there for the last five or six outs.
“That was probably the most vocal our dugout has been in three years.”
The late innings were a test, but the Orioles survived.
“It got tight there a couple of times. We were tested,” Mancini said. “We came through, and it felt amazing to get a win.
“It’s a good time in there. The music’s blasting louder than I’ve ever heard it.”
Notes: The Orioles optioned infielder Tyler Nevin to Triple-A Norfolk. Nevin was called up when Mancini and Mountcastle were unavailable because injuries last week. He was 1-for-5 (.200) in two games. The Orioles will add a pitcher for Wednesday. … Matt Harvey (3-6, 6.84 ERA) will face starts Randy Dobnak (1-4, 6.49). Hyde said Harvey will pitch an inning or two, and that the bullpen will pitch the balance of the game. … Minnesota catcher Mitch Garver left the game in the first inning when he suffered a bruised groin. Garver was taken to a local hospital and is expected to miss significant time. … Hunter Harvey pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk, allowing two hits and striking out two in relief of Dean Kremer, who allowed two runs on two hits in four innings. Kremer struck out seven. … Zimmermann became the second Maryland-born starter to win a game at Camden Yards. Steve Johnson was the first in 2012.
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