MINNEAPOLIS – This comeback win had many fathers. There were 18 hits. Seven batters had more than one hit, and the bullpen was phenomenal.
Spotting the Minnesota Twins six runs with their leading winner battered, the Orioles engineered a thrilling 9-6 comeback win in 10 innings before 31,360 at Target Field on Friday night.
Jason Hammel gave up six runs in four-plus innings, but by the end of the night, it was the nine unanswered runs that was the topic of conversation and not the starter’s struggles.
“This was so casual, nonchalant, like, ‘ok, 6-0. We are going to come back,’” Chris Dickerson said.
“The team knew we were going to come back and win. It was amazing.”
For five innings, it didn’t seem as if it was the Orioles’ night. But in the last five innings, the Orioles outhit the Twins 13-3.
There were seven doubles, six of them in the comeback innings, and the game was fittingly ended by Jim Johnson, who set a franchise record with his 35th consecutive save.
T.J. McFarland relieved Hammel with none out in the fifth and allowed two hits in 2 2/3 innings. Tommy Hunter threw a perfect 2 1/3 innings and Johnson collected his 14th save of the season and as usual, downplayed the significance of yet another record.
“I wasn’t thinking about it obviously. I was just thinking about watching us chip away,” Johnson said.
Johnson bested Randy Myers who set the previous mark of 34 consecutive save conversions in 1997.
“It’s not really anything I’m focused on. It’s great, but our ultimate goal is our team record at the end of the year and going further than that. Personal achievements are always second,” Johnson said.
Johnson hasn’t blown a save attempt since July 27, 2012.
“Jimmy has really been as solid as you can ask of anybody. Whether it's a three-run lead or a one-run lead, he's a guy who cares about doing the job for his teammates. I'm just proud of the way he handles his success. Jimmy acts like it's the first save he's ever had. It's never a ‘look at me’ mentality,” manager Buck Showalter said.
With the scored tied at six, Dickerson led off the 10th with a base hit off Anthony Swarzak (1-1). Alexi Casilla bunted him to second, and Manny Machado’s single scored Dickerson. Nick Markakis’ sacrifice fly scored Machado and Adam Jones’ single scored Machado.
“I almost think the team enjoys playing from behind. With an attitude like that it’s like, ‘Ok, we are going to come back,’” Dickerson said.
Hunter (3-1) got the win and ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 14 2/3. His bullpen mates have done brilliantly as well.
“We're throwing the ball well. We're called up and we're doing our job.It's about all we can do right now. We keep getting the ball. We're going to keep throwing innings. Hopefully, we keep winning games like this. We give our team a chance to win, and these guys are
going to hit. Just give them time, and they'll come through,” Hunter said.
Hammel was trying for his sixth road win. He didn’t get it. In his five wins, the Orioles (22-14) averaged 7.4 runs. They scored none while he was in the game, but made up for it when he left.
“I mean, obviously these guys, they score runs. And they score runs
in bunches. Good teams score runs and you know if you’re a starting pitcher you’ve just got to keep the in the game somehow,” Hammel said.
He was attempting to be the first pitcher since 1920 to win six games on the road before May 17, couldn’t get an out in the fifth.
Minnesota (16-16), which won two of three games in Baltimore last month, scored a run in the first on a leadoff single by Jamey Carroll, a double by Joe Mauer and an infield out by Josh Willingham.
In the second, the teams loaded the bases with two outs before Mauer drove in two with a single to make it 3-0.
Ryan Doumit’s run-scoring fly ball in the third made it 4-0, but after striking out the sides in the fourth, hit Willingham with a pitch, walked Justin Morneau and allowed a run-scoring double by Trevor Plouffe before being replaced by McFarland.
After a sixth run scored on an infield out, the Orioles trailed 6-0.
In the sixth they finally broke through against Mike Pelfrey. Doubles by Markakis, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Dickerson cut the lead to 6-3.
In the seventh, McLouth led off with a double. Machado bunted, and third baseman Trevor Plouffe’s throw was wild, scoring McLouth with the fourth run. Markakis singled to score Machado and with one out, Davis’ third double scored Markakis, and it was tied at 6.