ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Orioles’ three solo homers sink Smeltzer, Twins

After consecutive walk-off victories, Minnesota ran out of late-inning magic

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer throws a pitch on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.
Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINNEAPOLIS — Devin Smeltzer played with Tyler Wells when the two pitchers were Twins prospects at Double-A Chattanooga, so he follows Wells’ progress and likes to see him do well.

On Sunday, not so much.

The former teammates each took the mound for different teams at Target Field on Sunday, and Wells handcuffed the Twins as the Baltimore Orioles staved off a series sweep with a 3-1 victory in front of 24,424.

“I always follow along with guys that I get along with or played with in the past. I’m happy for him,” Smeltzer said. “I don’t love seeing it against us. I’d love to see him get mashed around, just from the competitive aspect, but he’s been throwing very well. Tip your cap to that.”

MORE MINNESOTA TWINS COVERAGE:
Pro
“There are decisions that have to be made,” Baldelli said. “This was one of them that was really hard. It took some time and some contemplation ..."
Pro
The Twins’ bullpen issues cropped up again as three relievers surrender three runs apiece
Pro
There is no doubt the Twins are a better team than they were on Tuesday morning, and at the very least, the deadline haul has been a gift, a jolt of adrenaline for the team and its fans.
Pro
“As soon as I landed, I kind of felt like this was where I needed to be,” Mahle said.
Pro
Deadline acquisitions Sandy Leon, Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez help beat Tigers 4-1.
Pro
After a big trade deadline day, Minnesota blew a one-run lead in the seventh and lost 5-3
Pro
Buxton leads the team with 26 home runs and is second to Jorge Polanco (49) with 46 RBIs while avoiding the injured list for the first time since 2016.
Pro
Lopez, a first-time all-star this season, has a 1.68 earned-run average and has converted 19 of 23 save opportunities this season.
Pro
Jose Miranda drove in three runs, and Gio Urshela won it with a two-run homer in the 10th
Pro
In the movies, that means something big is about to happen, but the Twins have little to deal at the trade deadline

Wells (7-4) didn’t give up a hit until Nick Gordon’s one-out double to right field in the fifth inning and allowed only three over six innings. He walked one and allowed only two baserunners to advance as far as second base while striking out seven as the Twins – perhaps hungover from consecutive walk-off wins on Friday and Saturday – went down quietly.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’ll give him credit and say he threw the ball well, but we have to bear down knowing that we’re not necessarily having the best at-bats,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve got to find a new plan, I think, as the game goes on. What we went into the game trying to do, we had some trouble with.”

Smeltzer (4-2) took the loss despite giving the Twins a third straight quality start, allowing three runs on six hits and walking only one. Three of those hits, however, were solo home runs.

Rougned Odor gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning, and Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle started the sixth with back-to-back homers for a 3-0 lead.

Today, tip your cap to Mancini,” Smeltzer said. “I threw a pitch exactly where I wanted to and he got to it. Analytically, game plan, all that says he can’t hit that pitch, so he made an adjustment and got it.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Rougned Odor reacts after hitting a home run off Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer on Sunday during the fifth inning at Target Field.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

“The one after that, I’m throwing my least-damaging pitch and trying to get ahead into a count after a home run. (Mountcastle) bum-rushed it and got a barrel to it. Again, you just tip your cap.”

That was enough for Wells and three relievers who combined for three scoreless innings. Dillon Tate got the final three outs for his second save in as many chances after Minnesota roughed up closer Jorge Lopez in the first two games of the series.

A 15th-round pick in the 2016 amateur draft, Wells was lost to Baltimore in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

“It’s cool because this is where I thought I’d be and, obviously, I’m not,” Wells said Wells. “But, again, I think I said this last time, I think the fun part about it is playing against the guys that I came up with. … I have a lot of really strong feelings for those guys. I care about them a lot. So, to be able to go out there and compete against them is always fun.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Twins’ offense had just about nothing going against Wells. Gordon got the first hit, a one-out double in the fifth was stranded there. They got on the board in the six when Gilberto Celestino led off with a walk, advanced to second on a single by Luis Arraez and moved to third on Carlos Correa’s double-play grounder to short. Jorge Polanco followed with a single to right to plate Celestino and cut the Twins’ deficit to 3-1.

Minnesota had a chance to at least chip into a two-run deficit in the seventh after pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick hit a one-out single and moved to second on Alex Kirilloff’s two-out walk.

It seemed like a chance to pinch hit Byron Buxton, who leads the Twins with 21 home runs and is tied with Jorge Polanco for the RBI lead (38) and was getting a Sunday rest. Instead, Celestino batted for himself and sent a chopper to short to end the Twins last, best threat.

Baldelli said he didn’t want to use Buxton “at that point in the game.”

“Buck was ready to come up the next time around towards the end of the game,” he added. “He was loose and ready and was gonna hit. You could find a really, really good reason to hit Buck at any point in the game, probably any game where you’re not winning, but at least today he was more ready at the end, in the ninth inning.”

The Twins are trying to give Buxton regular rest to keep him healthy down the stretch, and had he hit in the seventh, he would have had to play center field because Garlick had already pinch hit for Nick Gordon. Baldelli said that that was “one small reason” he didn’t hit Buxton in the seventh.

“If you want to make moves in the fifth or six inning, you could do that, too,” he added. “Then every one of your guys that normally does start will play 162 games, maybe, and … they’ll get a lot of work if that were the policy. But in some of these games we tend to look more toward the eighth and ninth inning to get these guys hot and get these guys going and ready.”

ADVERTISEMENT

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: BASEBALLMINNESOTA TWINS
What to read next
Pro
Collier played a key role in a game-securing 10-0 fourth-quarter run.
Pro
Harvick needed to win a race to grab a berth for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and he did just that, beating out polesitter Bubba Wallace by 2.903 seconds.
Pro
At last summer’s night practice during training camp, Jake Browning was the only quarterback to suit up.
Pro
Cornerback actually has been working with one Vikings receiver since he was 11.