MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After years of being shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen, Alfredo Simon wants to prove he deserves to be a starting pitcher.
More performances like Tuesday night will help Simon stake a claim to a permanent spot in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation.
Simon allowed one run and three hits in a career-high eight innings, and Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds both had three hits as the Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1.
Nolan Reimold added a three-run homer for Baltimore.
Simon (4-6) won for the first time in four starts. He struck out a career-high eight.
“I can be a starter, no matter what,” Simon said. “I have the stuff to be a starter. It’s up to them what they are going to do with me. Either way, I can be a starter, but sometimes something happens and we have to handle it like that. But I think I can be a starter. I’m a power pitcher. I have four pitches.”
Minnesota starter Brian Duensing (8-13) was out after just four batters in the third inning as his struggles continued. He gave up seven runs and nine hits while losing his fifth straight game.
Danny Valencia had a solo home run for the Twins, who have lost five of six games on the current homestand.
“Our offense was just nonexistent,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Their kid threw the ball well. I think you saw his splitters and curveball and a decent fastball from him. He had us guessing pretty much all night long.”
Simon saved 17 games for Baltimore last season and was in the bullpen when he joined the team in May. He joined rotation on July 9, but has been inconsistent in his nine starts.
“This is a 29-, 30-year-old young man whose gotten some opportunities because of the arm and his stuff, and ability on occasions to do things like he did tonight,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “The key is can you do it again and can you do it again and can you do it again. We all live in a what-have-you-done-for-me world, but it’s a good start.”
Simon allowed three runs or less in his first five starts, compiling a 3.26 ERA. However, he had allowed 13 runs in 15 2/3 innings in his last three turns.
“You see that tonight and you know the potential is there, but everyone’s trying to grasp that consistency,” Showalter said. “It will all be dictated by the command of the fastball, once you establish that. He had a live fastball, a lot of late life.”
He didn’t have any trouble against the punchless Twins.
Simon retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced and didn’t give up a hit after Luke Hughes’ double in the third inning.
After going 63 games without holding an opponent to one run or less, Baltimore has held Minnesota to two runs in the series with Simon’s domination following Zach Britton’s 4-1 win in the series opener on Monday.
Duensing was never the same after trying to field a ball hit by Guerrero with his bare hand. Duensing knocked the ball down, but tried to throw to first to record the out and threw wildly straight into ground allowing Guerrero to go to second.
The next pitch was a wild pitch with Guerrero advancing to third. Wieters then doubled and Reynolds singled on hard-hit balls.
Following a pop-up, Reimold connected for his eighth homer of the season.
“Didn’t really affect it too much, maybe three or four pitches after that,” Duensing said of being hit on the hand. “It was just kind of numb; first three fingers couldn’t really feel them. But that really wasn’t the issue today. I was up in the zone again and wasn’t executing again.”
Reynolds hit a two-run triple the following inning, and Duensing was done after Robert Andino’s singled scored Reynolds.
Duensing equaled his shortest start of the season and is winless in August. He’s allowed 25 earned runs in 26 innings in August and has given up at least eight hits in each of his five starts.
Baltimore has won the first two games of the four-game series, a significant accomplishment in itself. The Orioles are winless in their last 15 series, losing 14 of them.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)