BALTIMORE – A challenging day turned even more difficult in the 12th inning. With Manny Machado playing shortstop for the first time in his major league career, and Jimmy Paredes at third base in his place, both made critical errors, and the Orioles’ once promising homestand turned sour.
The Orioles’ 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins before 35,144 at Oriole Park on Sunday, was ugly. And things turned even uglier after the game when J.J. Hardy for whom Paredes ran, said that he was going to go on the disabled list with a groin injury.
Three innings earlier, the Orioles thought they were about to salvage the final game of the 10-game homestand and break a seven-game losing streak to the Twins.
But, Brian Dozier’s headlong dive into first base for an infield single, an infield out and Trevor Plouffe’s single to left in the ninth handed Zach Britton his third blown save instead of his 30th save.
With one out in the 12th, Eduardo Escobar’s grounder was muffed by Machado at short. Machado moved to short because Hardy was removed for a pinch runner. Escobar hustled into second. Shane Robinson’s grounder bounced off Paredes’ glove, and Escobar scored.
“We lost, plain and simple. I’ll go back out there and play shortstop again, get the opportunity to come back and help the team win again,” a visibly upset Machado said. “We lost the game in the ninth inning, bloop hits. [Stuff] ain’t going our way. We’ve got to keep our head up and keep playing the game.”
Machado was drafted as a shortstop and played there until the Orioles brought him up as a third baseman in Aug. 2012. He hadn’t played there at all, and in his first chance, he made a big error.
“It’s part of the game. It’s three days in a row, four days in a row, how many days it’s been. They haven’t even got the ball out of the infield off [Britton], and he’s blown a couple of saves that he should have had. It’s just frustrating, frustrating to watch. It’s something that if you lose, you lose, with them giving up homers and hard hit balls. We lost the game, but to lose like that makes it that much worse,” Machado said.
Brian Matusz (1-3) took the loss even though he did nothing wrong.
Glen Perkins (2-4) pitched the 11th for the win. Tommy Milone, who started Friday night’s game and pitched 5 1/3 innings, worked the 12th for his first major league save.
The Orioles (62-61) ended the season-long 10-game homestand with a 5-5 record. After winning the first five of six games, they lost four straight to the Twins (62-62).
“Win. That’s all this game is about. It’s about winning. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you win. You think the Twins care about how they won, just that they won. The only thing that matters--especially at this point in time. Forty games left, we need W’s,” Adam Jones said.
With a challenging seven-game road trip against the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers, the Orioles badly needed a win.
They didn’t get one and have lost eight straight to Minnesota despite a terrific performance by Kevin Gausman. He retired 17 straight batters and didn’t allow a hit in his final 6 1/3 innings, but didn’t figure in the decision.
Gausman allowed a two-run home run to Miguel Sano in the first and the Orioles scored a run in the fourth on a leadoff double by Gerardo Parra, and a one-out single by Jonathan Schoop, and took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run single by Schoop.
In seven innings, Gausman equaled his career high with eight strikeouts.
The Orioles begin the trip in third place in the AL East, 6 ½ games out of first place, and they’re two games out of the second wild card spot, behind Texas, Los Angeles and Minnesota.
With three game-ending home runs on the first six games of the homestand, the Orioles looked like a hot team.
Britton is part of a normally airtight bullpen that had some issues this weekend. He thinks he knows what the Orioles need.
“Just someone coming up big, I feel like. But at the same time you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself to be that guy. I think maybe that’s the issue right now,” Britton said.
“A lot of guys want to be the guy and sometimes you get a little bit out of your comfort zone and try to do too much. We’ve got a good enough team that everyone can be themselves and we can start winning some games.”
NOTE: Manager Buck Showalter said that a pitcher would probably be added for Monday night’s game.
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