Orioles-Twins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 15, 2012
It's been nearly 11 months since the last time the Baltimore Orioles visited Minnesota, and that's probably just fine with the Twins. Jim Thome's final game in a Twins uniform was the same day as the Orioles' last visit, but he's made frequent trips back to haunt Minnesota. Losers of 10 of 14 overall, Thome and the Orioles look to get well Monday night when they open a four-game series against the slumping Twins, whom they've defeated seven consecutive times. Atop the AL East as recently as early June, Baltimore (46-42) is now eight games behind the Yankees as its offense scuffles. After a brief breakout in Saturday's 8-6 victory over Detroit, the Orioles reverted to recent form Sunday as Justin Verlander dominated them for eight innings of a 4-0 home defeat that was their fourth loss in five games - three of them shutouts. Thome was the only major bright spot for Baltimore's lineup, accounting for three of the team's four hits including the only double. If Thome's bat stays hot, it will be an all-too familiar sight for the Twins (36-52). This will be the veteran slugger's ninth game against Minnesota with his third different club since being dealt to Cleveland last August. He made the most of the first eight - five with the Indians in September and three with Philadelphia last month - going 11 for 26 (.423) with four homers and 14 RBIs. Thome went 5 for 11 with two homers, nine RBIs and four runs scored to help the Phillies take two of three at Target Field from June 12-14. "I've always enjoyed playing here,'' Thome said after the finale of that series. "And I've had some success here.'' So have the Orioles. Baltimore swept four games in Minnesota last Aug. 22-25, outscoring the Twins 24-4. Thome went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the final game, and the Twins traded him later that day. The Orioles extended their winning streak over the Twins with a three-game sweep at Camden Yards from April 6-8 to open the season. They've limited Minnesota to two runs or fewer in each of their seven consecutive victories in the series. Chris Tillman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will try to extend that run when he gets the ball for Baltimore on Monday. The onetime top prospect had been 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA in 36 major league starts over three seasons, but excelled in his 2012 debut July 4 at Seattle, allowing two unearned runs and two hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 4-2 victory. "I feel like, in the past, I haven't been as confident as I am right now," Tillman told the Orioles' official website. "With what happened in my delivery, I feel like it's there for me now and I'm able to repeat it with all my pitches. I'm very confident right now, just got to keep it that way and keep working." He'll be opposed by Scott Diamond (7-3, 2.62), who has been a bright spot for the Twins by allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts including his last three. The left-hander limited Detroit to two runs over seven innings in his last outing July 5, but failed to get a decision after the bullpen squandered a lead and Minnesota lost 7-3. Losers of five straight, the Twins will need some strong innings out of Diamond after starters Brian Duensing and Cole De Vries combined to allow 13 runs over seven innings in the final two contests of a three-game weekend sweep to Oakland. "Our offense is doing the job, our bullpen is doing the job,'' Duensing said after Sunday's 9-4 defeat. "The starting pitching right now is really struggling and not putting our team in a good spot.'' Justin Morneau singled for Minnesota on Sunday, and is batting .315 (17 for 54) during a 13-game hitting streak.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbugh, get him fired

Mike Zimmer won’t retire even if right eye goes blind

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kevin Love responds to Draymond Green’s ‘annihilation’ trash talk

Spike Lee deletes Instagram post saying Kaepernick signed with Seattle

Errol Spence is the real deal, takes down Kell Brook

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Report: Jerry West considered rejoining the Lakers before they hired Magic Johnson

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker