MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are mostly out of postseason contention.
Ben Revere and Denard Span can still put on quite the skills competition.
Span had three hits and five RBIs, plus two highlight-reel catches in center field to help the Twins stop their five-game losing streak and beat the Baltimore Orioles 19-7 on Monday night.
Revere made two remarkable running grabs himself in right field to go with four hits and three RBIs, Joe Mauer homered and drove in two runs and Justin Morneau had four of Minnesota’s 20 hits to stretch his hitting streak to a season-long 14 straight games.
“We’ve been taking a few beatings lately. It’s nice to be on this side of one,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Chris Tillman (1-1) gave up seven runs in the first and didn’t finish the inning, the shortest appearance by an Orioles starter in almost a year. Six of the runs were unearned, due an untimely two-out error by first baseman Mark Reynolds. He hit a three-run homer off Scott Diamond (8-3), but the Twins starter won his third straight decision thanks to the big early lead — and that pitcher-friendly defense.
“Basically having a center fielder in right field, it’s huge for us because it just allows you to force the hitters to put balls in play,” Diamond said.
Tillman turned in a stellar start for the Orioles on July 4, surrendering only two hits and two unearned runs over a career-high 8 1/3 innings at Seattle, but this time was just the opposite of that.
Baseball games are rarely determined so early, but a pair of plays in the field in the first inning essentially decided this one.
With two on and no outs, Adam Jones drove what would’ve been a double or a triple hard down the right-field line, but Revere raced toward the corner and came up with a fully outstretched catch to freeze the runners.
“The ball kind of tailed, kind of got in the sun a little bit, so I squinted my eyes and luckily I saw it,” Revere said. “I dove and it landed in my glove.”
Then, Matt Wieters bounced into a double play, keeping the Orioles from scoring at all, though manager Buck Showalter tried to downplay the effect of Revere’s catch, as impressive as it was.
“I don’t think when you give up 19 runs you can hang your hook on one play,” Showalter said.
In the bottom of the frame, Revere doubled and scored on Mauer’s single. The Twins eventually loaded the bases, but Tillman had two outs and a full count on Ryan Doumit. On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Doumit hit a chopper to first base that Reynolds awkwardly lunged toward with his backhand. The ball glanced off the edge of his glove, allowing two men to score and paving the way for Span’s three-run double that capped the inning.
The Orioles and Twins sure packed a lot into this matchup, including a balk, an infield fly rule call and even a two-run infield single. That came courtesy of Revere, whose grounder up the middle skipped off second base in front of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who couldn’t grab it in time to throw Span out at home and keep the Twins from taking a 10-2 lead in the third.
Span made a sprinting, sliding catch of a sinking liner to steal a single from Steve Tolleson in the sixth and sped back to nab J.J. Hardy’s drive against the bullpen wall in the seventh. Revere also took an extra-base hit from Hardy with his second long run of the night, in the fifth.
“They can cover some ground out there,” Reynolds said.
Span teased Revere, who is four years younger and a fellow first-round draft pick, about trying to one-up him.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’re killing me, man.’ Every time I try to make a catch he turns around and dives and flips,” Span said.
Revere has been able to make up for a weak arm with elite range in right, where he’s beginning to feel comfortable playing.
“It’s going to make our team a lot better having me out there with him. We can cover so much ground,” Revere said.
NOTES: RH Samuel Deduno (0-0, 5.06 ERA) makes his second career start for the Twins on Tuesday. He was added to the rotation right before the All-Star break. LH Zach Britton will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk by the Orioles and make his 2012 debut. He started the season on the DL with a left shoulder problem. … The Orioles still haven’t named a starter for Wednesday to fill RH Jason Hammel’s spot. Hammel had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Monday. … The Twins are averaging 5.9 runs per game when Diamond starts, nearly two more than the rest of the rotation.
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