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Orioles stop five-game losing streak with win over Twins

Orioles stop five-game losing streak with win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Orioles have tumbled through the last two months, with their starting pitchers the biggest part of the problem.

Wade Miley was the solution on Saturday.

Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo each homered in support of Miley's best performance in more than five weeks, and the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1 to stop a five-game losing streak.

"If we're looking in the standings right now, we're wrong. We just go play day by day and play the game the right way," Miley said. "That was a pretty clean baseball game. It's one of the first ones in a while."

Manny Machado added an RBI double to help the Orioles beat the Twins for the first time in six meetings this season. This was just their third win in 11 games, and they're 19-36 since May 10 to fall from first place in the American League East to being tied for last.

Miley (4-7) had his own struggles to deal with. He failed to finish three innings in three of his last six starts, an awful stretch that saw his ERA balloon from 2.82 to 5.20. Against the Twins, he gave up eight hits and three walks, but only one run before leaving with two outs in the sixth.

"It's a good way to end it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's why these guys are what they are. They don't run away from their struggles. They want to get back and make the contributions that they're asked to make."

After Miguel Sano's 21st home run, Schoop trumped his All-Star teammate with a towering two-run shot in the fourth inning off Adalberto Mejia (4-4). The ball landed in the third deck above left field, estimated by Major League Baseball's Statcast system at 462 feet.

"Everything worked today," Schoop said. "We're looking for it to work tomorrow."

Mejia was removed with two outs in the seventh, after allowing five hits, three walks and four runs. He had won each of his previous three starts, but the Twins stranded 10 runners on base over the first six innings and didn't come close to the stirring comeback they produced on Friday from a 6-0 deficit for a 9-6 victory.

SLUGGING SANO

Sano stretched his hitting streak to a season-long and career-high-tying 10 straight games. He's batting .342 with three homers and nine RBIs on the run. His before-the-break total is the most by a Twins player since Justin Morneau had 21 homers in 2009.

"I need to hit more than that," Sano said, "and next year hit more than that."

COLON COMING?

After signing 44-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon to a minor-league contract for at least one turn with Triple-A Rochester, the Twins could bring him up to start as soon as July 18 against the New York Yankees. Jose Berrios, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Mejia have been ordered for after the All-Star break, but there's a fifth spot in the rotation that'll need to be filled.

GOOD START

Twins outfielder Zack Granite, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester, arrived in Minnesota after midnight but still beat manager Paul Molitor to work on his first day of major league duty. Granite debuted in the eighth inning with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a pop up and a rousing ovation from the crowd of 26,323.

"That's definitely the loudest I've ever heard a stadium for an out," Granite said, "so that was kind of cool."

SCHOOP AT SHORT

The Orioles designated SS Paul Janish for assignment to make room for RHP Chris Tillman, who returned from paternity leave to join the bullpen for now. With manager Buck Showalter wanting to give Johnny Giavotella some work at 2B, Schoop got his first career start at SS.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Miley was tripped by a spinning barrel off the broken bat of Kennys Vargas during an inning-ending groundout in the fifth, sending him to the ground, but he returned for the sixth after walking off gingerly.

Twins: Molitor said he's "fairly confident" that 1B Joe Mauer (strained lower back) will be ready to play as soon as he's eligible to come off the DL on Friday for the first game after the break.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 6.64 ERA) pitches on Sunday. His ERA has never been lower than 5.44 over his last 40 appearances since May 12, 2016.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (5-6, 5.82 ERA) takes the mound to wrap up the series. Since being recalled May 22 from Triple-A, he's 5-2 with a 4.59 ERA in nine starts.

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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