The Baltimore Orioles took three of four from the Minnesota Twins and are methodically marching towards post season play along with winning the American League East Division for the first time since 1997.
The Labor Day weekend series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards began with a 9-1 Baltimore beat down of the Twins. Slugger Chris Davis, who has struggled to hit for average this season, came up with the big blow, a fourth inning Grand Slam, his 24th homer of the year. Utility player Delmon Young chipped in with his own two-run homer an inning later.
Meanwhile, starter Miguel Gonzalez (7-7) held the Twins to four hits while going seven strong innings. He recorded seven strikeouts while allowing one earned run and one walk. He now has a 3.61 ERA.
The second game of the series, a Baltimore 3-2 victory, featured a breakout game from late season Oriole call up Jimmy Paredes who went 2-4 which included his first Oriole homer and a double. The third baseman finished the game with two RBI. His sixth inning homer gave the O’s a 2-1 lead and his ground rule double in the seventh over the center fielder’s head gave the Orioles their final run of the game.
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman labored through five inning, never having a 1-2-3 inning. He managed to keep his team in the game giving up only one earned run while striking out six. He did give up six hits and three walks. His ERA is now 3.36. Three Orioles relievers later, closer Zach Britton came in to record his 30th save of the year.
The third game of the series was another laugher as the Birds won 12-8. The big blow, a sixth inning Grand Slam by shortstop J.J. Hardy was part of a season-high seven run inning giving the O’s an 11-2 lead. The Twins did make a game off it coming back with three runs in the seventh but the Birds added their own run in the bottom of the inning to maintain a comfortable margin. Minnesota rallied again in the ninth with three more runs making the score 12-8 but that was as close as they got. Britton was called in to shutdown the rally and he recorded his 31st save of the year.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (14-4) lasted 6.2 innings while striking out seven. He allowed eight hits while giving up four earned runs. He issued no walks and now has an ERA of 3.83.
The Twins avoided a sweep, winning 6-4 on Labor Day Monday. Twins All-Star Joe Mauer led the way going 3-4 with four RBI. The Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning, but Orioles catcher Nick Hundley answered with a three-run homer in the seventh inning to tie the game. Minnesota answered right back with three runs in the eighth inning. Nelson Cruz hit his major-league leading 36th homer of the year, a solo shot in the ninth inning but that was as close as the Birds got.
On the hill, Orioles starter Kevin Gausman (7-7) went 7.1 innings striking out seven and walking two. He only gave up five hits and was hurt by an eighth inning error by third baseman Paredes that should have been a double play.
The Orioles ended the series with a record of (79-57) good for an 8.5 game lead over the second place New York Yankees with 26 games to play in the regular season.