BALTIMORE—After erasing the embarrassment of their 14-game losing streak, the Orioles head into an offday with a two-game winning streak.
On Wednesday, the Orioles used the long ball and long relief to defeat the Minnesota Twins, 6-3, before 5,945 at Oriole Park. Home runs by DJ Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle provided enough offense for a group pitching effort led by starter Matt Harvey and a Rule 5 pitcher who threw three scoreless innings for his first major league win.
It was the first time the Orioles (19-37) recorded consecutive victories since they won three straight from April 29-May 1. It was their first series win since May 3-5 in Seattle, and their first home series win of the season.
“I just think we’ve played well the last couple of days,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve swung the bats well … We haven’t been playing with a lead in, I don’t know how long. We played with a lead the last couple of nights, and did a nice job and added on, and that was huge.”
After the Orioles played a doubleheader on Saturday in Chicago, it left them without a properly rested starter for Wednesday. Hyde didn’t want to start John Means on three days’ rest but decided instead to pitch Harvey, who also started on Saturday, but only for a couple of innings.
Harvey ended up pitching three innings, throwing 43 pitches, and allowed Ryan Jeffers’ first home run in the second. Jeffers was recalled by Minnesota after Mitch Garver, who started at catcher on Tuesday, had emergency groin surgery after Trey Mancini’s foul ball hit him.
“I think it was the first time I’ve ever done that,” Harvey said about being used more as an opener. “You have to make things up as they go.”
Hyde said that he planned to pitch Harvey for only two innings, but Harvey talked the manager into a third.
“I treated it like a normal start,” Harvey said.
Harvey felt some responsibility for the losing streak.
“There were a lot of games we should have won where we scored runs and me, myself didn’t do a very good job keeping runs off the board, “Harvey said. “We got an early lead. We had a big discussion about flipping the page, and we started off June better than we did in ending May.”
Rule 5 draft choice Tyler Wells (1-0) relieved Harvey and pitched three nearly spotless innings, marred only by a leadoff single by Nelson Cruz in the fourth. Willians Astudillo hit into a double play.
Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless seventh and gave up two runs in the eighth. Jeffers’ triple scored Nick Gordon and, after Paul Fry relieved Armstrong, Jorge Polanco’s sacrifice fly scored Jeffers. Fry recorded the last five outs.
DJ Stewart led off the fourth with a single against Randy Dobnak (1-5). Ryan Mountcastle singled and, with Stewart on second, Maikel Franco grounded to Dobnak, who threw to second to force Mountcastle. Gordon’s throw to first was wild, and Stewart scored.
In the fifth, Freddy Galvis walked with two outs, and Stewart hit his sixth home run to right field, and the Orioles led, 3-1. It was Stewart’s fourth homer in the last 10 games.
“I’m trying to be more compact to the ball and not go around it,” Stewart said. “Not really seeing anything different, just getting into a better spot to hit and not missing as many pitches.”
The series was costly for Minnesota (22-33). Garver was hurt in Tuesday’s game. On Monday, Rob Refsnyder suffered a concussion when he hit his head on the center field wall chasing a home run by Mountcastle.
Reliever Caleb Thielbar left Wednesday’s game with a groin injury after striking out Galvis for the second out of the seventh.
With Anthony Santander on first, Alex Colomé walked Stewart, and Mountcastle homered to right-center, his sixth. It was the Orioles’ first three-run home run since May 5th and boosted the lead to 6-1.
“Mountcastle’s home run was enormous,” Hyde said. “That’s really the hit we haven’t been getting, the breakthrough home run to get in their bullpen and not a couple of their high-leverage guys pitch against us every night.”
Notes: Grayson Rodriguez pitched five innings for Bowie in his Double-A debut against the Hartford Yard Goats. He allowed a run on four hits, walking two and striking out eight. … The Orioles’ last series win at home came last September 13-15 against Atlanta.
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