MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On a night the Baltimore Orioles should have been celebrating another win, the silence in their locker room spoke about priorities.
Mark Reynolds homered to start a five-run fifth inning, Jeremy Guthrie pitched seven strong innings and the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Wednesday night.
But the loss of legendary pitcher Mike Flanagan justifiably overshadowed the win.
“The Orioles lost a real source of wisdom, and it’s just hard to imagine not getting to see him now and then,” manager Buck Showalter said, fighting back tears.
At different stages of his life, Flanagan was a pitcher, front office executive and television broadcaster for the Orioles.
When Flanagan was the vice-president of baseball operations he signed Guthrie in January 2007. Guthrie wears the same number that Flanagan did.
“Since the day I was given the number 46 I’ve had thousands of people tell me that that was the number of their favorite pitcher for the Orioles when they were growing up,” Guthrie said. “From day one I think I’ve been reminded of the legacy and the work that Mike did not only as a player, but as a member of the community in Baltimore. So, it’s always been special and now I think it takes on a new level. He’s not going to be forgotten soon. That’s for sure.”
Guthrie and many of the Orioles found out mid-game about Flanagan’s passing.
“Once you’re on the mound you realize the task at hand and you try to focus on that. I wouldn’t say so much it was a distraction from pitch to pitch as much as just kind of a heaviness from inside during the game,” Guthrie said.
Baltimore has won three straight games for the first time since winning four in a row from June 6-10. The Orioles have outscored Minnesota 18-3 in the three games.
Justin Morneau had an RBI double for the Twins, who have lost six of seven and 18 of their last 23 overall. Minnesota is 2 1/2 games ahead of last-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
Guthrie (6-16) has been dealing with some right shoulder soreness, and had given up 16 earned runs in his last three starts. The right-hander found his rhythm against a punchless Minnesota offense, allowing five hits and striking out five, the same number he struck out in his last three starts combined.
He wiggled out of a first-inning jam thanks to a diving two-out, bases-loaded stop by second baseman Ryan Adams and gave up consecutive doubles in the third before retiring 12 straight.
“I was able to keep the ball down for the most part,” he said. “If you get the ball down in the zone and maybe get some swing-throughs and maybe swing over it and keep the ball on the ground. For the most part, I was able to do that and command the fastball enough to keep them off balance and make them miss at a few pitches.”
Michael Gonzalez struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth and has struck out all seven batters he’s faced this series.
In what has become an audition for 2012, Kevin Slowey (0-2) had his second straight unimpressive start for the Twins, allowing five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed six earned runs and nine hits — including two home runs — in 5 2-3 innings against the Yankees on Friday.
Minnesota starters are 2-11 in their last 19 starts — with both wins by Francisco Liriano.
Slowey, who wants to be a starter in Minnesota or elsewhere next season, allowed one hit through four innings before Reynolds led off the fifth inning with a home run inside the left-field foul pole. After a single by Jake Fox, Nolan Reimold had an RBI triple and Adams added an RBI double. A two-run double by Matt Wieters ended Slowey’s night.
“It’s really frustrating to feel like mechanically I’d thrown well up to that point and then to just have an inning and really bury the team. We’ve been really scrapping lately and for me to go out there and give up five, it’s just really disappointing,” Slowey said.
J.J. Hardy scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.
Minnesota right fielder Michael Cuddyer left the game in the first inning with a left wrist injury after being hit by a pitch from Guthrie. X-rays were negative and an MRI is expected to be done Thursday morning. Cuddyer leads the team in home runs and RBIs.
“It got him right on the wrist bone. … He’s sore but hopefully there won’t be anything in there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)