Orioles-Twins Preview - NBC Sports

Orioles-Twins Preview
July 5, 2015, 8:25 pm

The Baltimore Orioles finally got the breakout offensive game they desperately needed.

A matchup with Phil Hughes could make it difficult for them to continue in that direction.

A pair of second-place teams open a three-game series at Target Field on Monday night as the Orioles and Minnesota Twins meet for the first time this season.

Things turned around quickly for Baltimore (43-39), which followed a 16-4 run with five losses in six games before a 9-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

Manny Machado's two-run homer in the eighth inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss prevented the Orioles from being shut out in three consecutive games for the first time since 1957. They totaled 13 runs, batted .195 and struck out 50 times during the 1-5 stretch.

There were no such problems Sunday as Baltimore cruised behind three hits from Steve Pearce. Jonathan Schoop provided an immediate boost to the struggling offense, homering in his first at-bat in nearly three months following his recovery from a sprained right knee.

"The nerves were all there," Schoop said. "I was a little bit excited, but I feel really good."

Adam Jones had a pair doubles and scored twice after entering Sunday in a 5-for-36 slump.

"It gives you confidence and you have more room to work with," winning pitcher Miguel Gonzalez said about the run support. "We did a good job hitting, and our defense was great."

Chris Davis was robbed of a home run for the second straight day, but knocked in two to give him a team-leading 51 RBIs. He's batting .333 with four homers and 18 RBIs in his last 11 games against the Twins.

Hughes (7-6, 4.27 ERA) takes the mound after his start was pushed back a day to accommodate Ervin Santana's return Sunday.

The right-hander won his third straight outing Tuesday, allowing four runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-5 victory at Cincinnati. It was a rare struggle for Hughes, who had compiled a 2.43 ERA in his previous four appearances before facing the Reds.

"You always gain confidence when things are going right and you're winning games," Hughes said. "It's high right now. I hope it continues."

The right-hander is 8-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 19 starts against the Orioles, but went 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two meetings last season, his first with the Twins.

Machado is 6 for 13 against Hughes, but Jones and Matt Wieters are a combined 15 for 83 (.181).

Minnesota returns home after completing a 4-6 road trip with Sunday's 3-2 loss to Kansas City.

The Twins didn't do much offensively in the second half of the trek, scoring 12 runs and going 6 for 40 (.150) with runners in scoring position in the final five games.

Brian Dozier and Torii Hunter combined to go 5 for 38 in those contests, but both have performed well lately against the Orioles.

Hunter is batting .386 with four home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.129 OPS in his last 14 meetings. Dozier is batting .361 with 10 runs during a nine-game hitting streak in the series.

Dozier is 5 for 11 with a homer off Wei-Yin Chen (4-4, 2.84), who looks to continue an impressive string of outings.

He is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last six starts, allowing two earned runs or less in five straight. The left-hander surrendered a pair of solo homers, two other hits and a walk in eight innings Wednesday in a 4-2 victory over Texas.

Chen is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts at Target Field.

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