There might not be enough time left in the season for Jeremy Guthrie to achieve the number of wins he had hoped for before the year began, or to get his ERA down to a number with which he can be satisfied.
But if Guthrie continues over the next month to pitch the way he has in his past two outings, the Orioles will feel much better about their 2010 rotation and the right-hander's position near the top of it. Guthrie held the Minnesota Twins to just a run over seven innings, and the Orioles salvaged one game of the three-game set with a 5-1 victory Wednesday in front of an announced 28,446 at the Metrodome.
"Luckily, the ERA is so far away that I don't have to try to get that back," said Guthrie, who improved to 9-12 with a 5.26 ERA. "I've just conceded that it's probably going to be much, much higher than I would've hoped for, but [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and I have talked about the opportunity that's still there to have a nice win total, to maybe help the team win 12 or 13 games. ...You can't get it all back, but you do the best you can with what's remaining and kind of make it a one-month season."
In the Orioles' final game at the Metrodome - the Twins are moving to outdoor Target Field for the 2010 season - Guthrie was in control from the outset, allowing six hits and walking none while striking out five on a night his team needed an extended outing because neither of the Orioles' long relievers were available because of their recent use.
He started the game by retiring 10 of the first 11 batter he faced and ended his outing by retiring pinch hitter Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla to get out of a jam in the seventh to keep the Orioles' three-run lead in tact. He pounded his fist into his glove and patted his catcher Chad Moeller on the back as he headed to the dugout.
"He was fantastic and was doing everything right," Moeller said. "All of his pitches were working today. We were using curveballs, which is a pitch we normally don't use a lot with him. It was great in the bullpen and carried over. His tempo was fantastic. There was no rush to him today. He just seemed in command of everything."
The Orioles (52-75) finished the nine-game trip with a 4-5 record, a respectable mark considering they played three teams still in the playoff hunt and had only 18 victories away from Camden Yards when the trip began. The Orioles outscored their opposition 36-34 on the trip but lost three one-run games.
"We played competitive baseball," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We're doing it with a nucleus of very young players. We're playing better. We're playing competitive and we're playing hard, so that's good."
Wednesday night's victory, which ended the Twins' season-best five-game winning streak, featured contributions from a variety of players. Seldom-used Moeller reached base four times and drove in two runs, one shy of his RBI total for the season entering the night.
"I guess it's no secret I'm here for my defense," Moeller said. "It's always good to help out on that side of the plate. They always say it's a bonus, but I don't buy it. If you don't do it often enough, they still kick you out. It's nice to be able to have a good game at the plate, and it's even better for me to be able to do it here just because this is where I started [my career]."
Nolan Reimold's first-inning infield single led to two runs because of a throwing error by Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who was later ejected when he slammed his bat onto the turf after his eighth-inning strikeout.
A day after his base-running gaffes drew the ire of manager Dave Trembley, center fielder Felix Pie hit a solo home run off Twins starter Nick Blackburn and drew two walks.
"Yesterday was in the past," said Pie, whose solo shot in the fourth traveled 419 feet. "I won't make that mistake again. Today was a new day."
Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis made several critical plays along with collecting two hits and a stolen base. But the night belonged to Guthrie, who went 2-0 on the trip and allowed just two earned runs, 12 hits and two walks over 14 innings.
Wednesday night marked the first time in 13 starts that Guthrie didn't walk a batter and just the fourth time in 26 outings this season. The American League leader in home runs allowed, Guthrie (9-12) gave up only an RBI double to Justin Morneau in winning back-to-back starts for just the third time all year and the first time since June 21 and 27. It's the first time this season he has allowed one earned run or fewer in consecutive starts.
"It's nice to be able to go out there and win the last game of the series up against a sweep," Guthrie said. "It's a good feeling anytime you can win, and these are especially gratifying circumstances."
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