BALTIMORE (AP) — The three home runs were nice. So were Ronny Paulino’s four hits and Robert Andino’s two RBIs.
Baltimore got plenty of offensive production in an 8-2 rout of the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, yet the most significant aspect of the victory was the performance of right-hander Tommy Hunter.
Hunter allowed two runs, none earned, over seven-plus innings. He gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one.
It was the perfect encore to the opening day outing of Jake Arrieta, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a 4-2 win. For the first time since 2001, Baltimore opened with the season with successive starts of seven innings or more.
Not bad for a team that last year finished with the worst ERA in the majors.
“You see us getting deeper in the game with our starting pitching, we’ll have some fun this year,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s two out of 162, but it’s a good way to start.”
Nick Markakis hit his second homer in two games, and Adam Jones and Matt Wieters also connected for the Orioles. Baltimore will seek to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday.
The Orioles have won six straight over Minnesota by a combined score of 36-8.
Hunter (1-0) was in control until the eighth, when the Twins used an error and two singles to load the bases with no outs. Pedro Strop then yielded run-scoring grounders to Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer.
There’s no guarantee the trend of solid starts will continue, but the Orioles know their success depends on it.
“That’s the thing,” Hunter said. “We are supposed to go out and supposed to throw six, seven innings a game. That’s what
starters do. That’s what we get paid to do. As long as we keep throwing strikes — like Jake did (Friday) — good results are going to come of that.”
The Orioles went up 6-0 against Francisco Liriano (0-1) after four innings and coasted to the finish.
“We got a lot of good at-bats tonight,” Showalter said. “Obviously, Paulino swung the bat well. A lot of good things.”
Not for the Twins, whose offense hasn’t quite gotten started yet.
“We haven’t hit,” manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged.
After finishing in last place in 2011, the Twins were encouraged by a decent spring training in which they went 18-15-1.
“These first two games are not indicative of how well we played in the spring,” Gardenhire said. “Once you start the season it’s different, and we have to kick it into gear.”
Minnesota went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 4 in such situations in the opener.
“Everybody wants to get the hit to start a rally. I left a lot of guys on base tonight, so I killed the rallies,” said third
baseman Danny Valencia, who popped out with two on in the second inning and bounced into a double play with two on in the fourth.
Liriano allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings. He struck out the side in the first, but Jones hit an opposite-field
drive leading off the second and Baltimore added two runs in third.
Paulino singled and scored when Josh Willingham misplayed Andino’s single to left. Nolan Reimold followed with an infield hit and Andino came home on a double-play grounder.
The Orioles made it 6-0 in the third. A walk to Mark Reynolds and a double by Paulino preceded a two-run single by Andino and an RBI single by Reimold.
Markakis and Wieters hit solo shots off Jared Burton in the seventh.
NOTES: Twins RHP Liam Hendriks was scratched from Sunday’s start because of food poisoning. RHP Anthony Swarzak will start in his place. … Orioles LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow) will pitch in extended spring training on April 9 and 14. If all goes well, Wada will pitch in a minor league game on the 19th in his bid to return from the DL. … Gardenhire started Ben Revere in RF because Ryan Doumit, who started in RF on opening day, will be behind the plate Sunday. Joe Mauer will either DH, play 1B or just get Sunday off. … Paulino had five hits in his debut with the Mets last year.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)