Baltimore at Minnesota

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Baltimore (9-23)000000000060
Minnesota (21-11) «00330000x6120

Twins take care of Orioles as Mauer returns to starting lineup

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A few adjustments have paid big dividends for Nick Blackburn.

Blackburn threw seven strong innings, Denard Span had his third three-hit game of the month and the Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-0 Sunday to earn a split of the four-game series.

Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla -- the bottom two hitters -- twice started three-run innings for Minnesota.

"It can't be the same guys every night; you have to have different people picking you up," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "Harry and Casilla come off the bench a lot and don't get to swing much, so it was a big game for them. Everybody wants to contribute to wins."

Joe Mauer was 1 for 3 as Minnesota's designated hitter, his first start after missing eight games because of a deeply bruised left heel he sustained while running out a grounder April 30. Gardenhire expects Mauer to be back behind the plate Tuesday when the Twins open a two-game home series with the Chicago White Sox.

Blackburn (3-1), who pitched a complete game Tuesday, allowed just four hits. He moved the ball around the zone -- especially his slider and sinker -- getting 11 flyouts and 10 ground-ball outs. He induced a double-play in the second, the lone time Baltimore had a runner in scoring position in the first six innings. Garrett Atkins lined out to left field with runners on first and second to end the seventh.

"Early on I was up a little bit and they were hitting a lot of fly balls, but once I kind of settled in everything was sharp and down so they hit the ball back into the ground which is what we usually want," Blackburn said.

In his four April starts, Blackburn went 1-1 with a 6.85 ERA, giving up 18 earned runs and 33 hits. Since then his delivery has changed slightly.

"I was getting out ahead of myself too fast, opening up the front hip, and that's leaving my shoulder open. I think for a couple of weeks I couldn't get on top of any pitches and I was pulling off of everything. Once we got that straightened away, I've just been working on keeping my front foot closed a little bit," Blackburn said. "I think we're getting closer to where I can feel what I'm doing wrong and what adjustments I need to be making."

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was puzzled as to why his team didn't have better swings, but was pleased when bat met ball.

"Almost every ball we hit on the button was right at somebody."

It did not matter because Brian Matusz was struggling.

Matusz (2-3), coming off four straight quality starts, allowed six earned runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. He has lost three straight, getting one run of support in those games.

Harris and Casilla singled off Matusz to start the third, before Span drove in both with a triple to the wall in right-center. It was just the third extra-base hit by a left-handed hitter against Matusz this year. New York's Robinson Cano doubled and homered April 29.

Span, who had three hits May 1 at Cleveland and on Wednesday against Detroit, scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Punto.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Trembley said. "I just didn't think he had the finish on his pitches. He had probably more balls, pitches up in the strike zone than he's thrown all year and the third out was a difficult one for him to get."

With two outs in the fourth, Harris doubled, Casilla had an RBI double and scored on a Span single to make it 5-0.

"A lot of times those two-out hits are backbreakers," Harris said.

Span scored on a bloop single by Punto and Mauer singled to chase Matusz.

"That's a tough lineup one through nine and you can't take any of those hitters lightly. I didn't do a good job at keeping the ball down," Matusz said

Jason Berken pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Orioles, and picked Span off first in the sixth.

Notes
  • Harris also had three hits.
  • Minnesota's Justin Morneau struck out four times. The only other time he's done that was July 9, 2003, at Texas.
  • Baltimore is 2-18 when scoring fewer than four runs. The Orioles have been shutout three times.
  • Army Specialist Logan Hastings threw out the game's first pitch to his father, Jeff, an Army captain. During a 16-month tour in Iraq, Logan and Gardenhire formed a friendship via e-mail. Father and son are expected to be deployed again later this year.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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In addition to three hits, Denard Span can include stealing third to his list of accomplishments Sunday. (AP)
In addition to three hits, Denard Span can include stealing third to his list of accomplishments Sunday. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

D. Span
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
Minnesota

N. Blackburn
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 2
K 0
 

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Baltimore Orioles
Cesar Izturis, SS4000011 .226
Ty Wigginton, 2B4010001 .283
Nick Markakis, RF4000002 .298
Miguel Tejada, 3B4000000 .284
Matt Wieters, C3020100 .283
Luke Scott, DH4010002 .186
Adam Jones, CF3010102 .230
Garrett Atkins, 1B3000003 .247
Nolan Reimold, LF3010000 .203
Totals3206021  
Batting
2B - Ty Wigginton (6, Guerrier)
Team LOB - 7
Baltimore Orioles
Brian Matusz (L,2-3) 3.2966120 4.91
Jason Berken 2.1100020 1.62
Cla Meredith 1000010 2.00
Alfredo Simon 1200010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Matusz 80-52, Jason Berken 25-15, Cla Meredith 16-12, Alfredo Simon 15-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Matusz 5-4, Jason Berken 1-3, Cla Meredith 2-0, Alfredo Simon 1-1
Batters Faced - Brian Matusz 21, Jason Berken 7, Cla Meredith 3, Alfredo Simon 5
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF4233000 .271
Nick Punto, 3B3022000 .259
Joe Mauer, DH3010101 .341
Justin Morneau, 1B4000044 .339
Michael Cuddyer, RF4010001 .285
Delmon Young, LF4000011 .267
Wilson Ramos, C4000001 .296
Brendan Harris, SS4230010 .226
Alexi Casilla, 2B4221002 .261
Totals34612616  
Batting
2B - Brendan Harris (3, Matusz), Alexi Casilla (1, Matusz)
3B - Denard Span (3, Matusz)
SF - Nick Punto (3)
RBI - Denard Span 3 (16), Nick Punto 2 (8), Alexi Casilla (1)
2-OUT RBI - Denard Span (7), Nick Punto (4), Alexi Casilla (1)
SB - Denard Span (8, 3rd base off Matusz/Wieters)
PK - Denard Span (1, Berken)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Harris-Casilla-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Nick Blackburn (W,3-1) 7400200 4.76
Matt Guerrier 1100010 1.72
Jon Rauch 1100000 2.08
Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 100-68, Matt Guerrier 19-12, Jon Rauch 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 9-11, Matt Guerrier 2-0
Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 26, Matt Guerrier 4, Jon Rauch 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38641
Game Time - 2:24
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Brian Gorman