Orioles end 14-game skid, Mullins keys 7-4 win over Twins
BALTIMORE (AP) — Cedric Mullins hustled over to right-center field and made a sliding, backhanded catch at the base of the wall.
It was still early, but by then, this night felt different for the Baltimore Orioles.
“I think that was the turning point in the game,” Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann said. “Everybody saw that, we were ready to roll. You could see kind of a mental shift in our favor after that catch.”
Mullins got two hits and scored two runs to go along with his sensational catch, helping Baltimore snap its 14-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
Pedro Severino and Maikel Franco both homered for the Orioles, who also ended a 16-game head-to-head skid against Minnesota. Zimmermann (3-3) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high seven.
The Orioles used four relievers. Cole Sulser pitched the ninth for his first save of the season. He allowed the tying run to come to the plate with one out before striking out Alex Kirilloff and retiring Jorge Polanco on a flyout — Polanco hit a drive to right earlier in his at-bat that hooked just a bit foul.
It was tied at 1 in the third when, with a runner on first and two outs, Minnesota’s Nelson Cruz hit a drive to right-center. Mullins, the center fielder, had to make a long run before sliding along the warning track for a backhanded catch in front of the wall.
“Probably one of the best catches I’ve ever seen in pro baseball,” Zimmermann said.
The Twins never did take the lead. The Orioles scored four runs in their half of the third, immediately after the catch by Mullins. They won for the first time since May 16 — when Zimmermann was also the winning pitcher against the New York Yankees.
“Tonight we let it all go,” Baltimore’s Trey Mancini said. “It was June 1st, kind of a natural reset for us, and we all decided to forget about May and come out strong in June.”
Kyle Garlick and Willians Astudillo hit solo homers for Minnesota. Michael Pineda (3-3) allowed five runs and seven hits in three innings.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver went to the hospital after leaving the game with a groin contusion following a first-inning foul tip. Manager Rocco Baldelli said he probably won’t be catching again for a while.
Baldelli also said Pineda was bothered by a bit of forearm tightness.
“I think he’s going to be perfectly fine,” Baldelli said.
Mullins led off the Baltimore first with a triple and scored on Mancini’s single. After Garlick’s homer, Mancini drove in Mullins again with another single in the third. Freddy Galvis added an RBI single, DJ Stewart drove in a run with a groundout, and Ryan Mountcastle hit a run-scoring double to make it 5-1.
“This is the way that baseball works,” Pineda said. “Sometimes you have a quick inning, sometimes you have hard innings. Just keep your head up and keep grinding.”
Severino’s homer came in the fourth and Franco’s in the sixth. The Twins had the bases loaded after Kirilloff’s RBI single made it 7-3 in the seventh, but Polanco hit a routine grounder to end that threat.
Astudillo went deep in the eighth to pull the Twins within three.
This was Baltimore’s longest losing streak since the Orioles started 0-21 in 1988.
Baltimore optioned infielder Tyler Nevin to Triple-A Norfolk after the game.
MORE STREAK NOTES
This was the Twins’ longest winning streak over one team since they took 17 in a row over Boston in 1965 and 1966.
The last major league team to lose 15 straight overall was the Houston Astros in 2013.
Twins: OF Rob Refsnyder did not play, a day after crashing into the wall in a Minnesota victory. Baldelli said Refsnyder also was experiencing some quad tightness.
Orioles: RHP Hunter Harvey (left oblique) pitched 1 2/3 innings for Norfolk on Tuesday night.
Minnesota sends RHP Randy Dobnak (1-4) to the mound Wednesday night against Baltimore’s Matt Harvey (3-6). Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Harvey — pitching on three days of rest — will probably go an inning or two before turning the game over to the bullpen.
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