Twins winning streak has them back in contentionMinnesota Sports - A season-high winning streak has the Minnesota Twins back in contention for the American League's Central Division title. The surging club takes aim at a sixth straight victory and a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles when the two teams square off again this evening at the Metrodome.
(Sports Network) -- A season-high winning streak has the Minnesota Twins back in contention for the American League's Central Division title. The surging club takes aim at a sixth straight victory and a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles when the two teams square off again this evening at the Metrodome.
Minnesota posted its seventh win in its last eight games in hard-fought fashion on Tuesday, with Delmon Young coming through with a run-scoring single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Twins to a 7-6 triumph.
Orioles reliever Kam Mickolio retired the first two hitters in the ninth before allowing an infield single to Michael Cuddyer to extend the inning. Jason Kubel then drew a walk before Young's opposite-field hit brought home Cuddyer, who beat right fielder Nick Markakis' throw the plate.
"We've got to figure out ways to win this time of year, can't worry about how the pitching or the hitting's doing," said Cuddyer afterward. "You've just got to worry about scoring more runs than the other team."
Despite the uplifting win, the Twins remained 4 1/2 games behind Detroit for the top spot in the AL Central and are tied with struggling Chicago for second place.
Young ended 4-for-5 with two runs scored for Minnesota, while Justin Morneau had a solo homer in his second game back from an inner ear infection that had sidelined the All-Star first baseman for six straight contests.
Michael Aubrey drove in three runs in the loss, the Orioles' third in four games.
Baltimore will try to salvage the finale of this three-game set behind Jeremy Guthrie, who delivered a sharp performance his last time out to end a month- long winless drought. The right-hander held the Chicago White Sox to one run and six hits over seven innings in leading the O's to a 5-1 verdict at U.S. Cellular Field this past Friday.
Prior to that outing, Guthrie had gone 0-4 with a 7.55 earned run average in a five-start stretch in which he surrendered five runs or more in four of those games. His last win had also come against the White Sox in Chicago, back on July 19.
The 30-year-old's lone career start against Minnesota took place in Baltimore during the 2007 season, with Guthrie earning a no-decision after permitting three runs over 6 2/3 innings. The former first-round pick has also faced the Twins twice in relief.
He'll be opposed tonight by the slumping Nick Blackburn, who'll be out to end a frustrating seven-start winless stretch when he takes the mound for Minnesota. The sophomore right-hander is 0-4 with a brutal 8.82 ERA during that span while allowing a whopping 57 hits over 32 2/3 innings.
In 18 starts prior to the All-Star break, Blackburn had compiled an 8-4 record with a very solid 3.06 ERA.
The 27-year-old did have an encouraging performance Friday in Kansas City, where he limited the Royals to three runs and struck out six in a seven-inning no-decision. In his two previous starts, Blackburn had been rocked for 12 runs (10 earned) and 12 hits over a combined four innings in home losses to Kansas City and Cleveland.
Blackburn has pitched just once previously against Baltimore, taking the loss in Camden Yards last December after being reached for six runs and four homers in a four-inning stint.
Baltimore swept a two-game set from the Twins at Camden Yards back in May, but Minnesota has won 14 of the past 19 meetings in this series.