Tapani on a roll for 2nd meeting


Remember Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Tapani when the Orioles last faced him?

He was 2-2 with a 7.78 ERA. He allowed 62 hits in 39 1/3 innings. Opponents were hitting .376 against him.

Nothing could have gone worse for Tapani as he prepared to start against the Orioles. It did get better, much better for Tapani.

Tapani (8-2) promptly threw a five-hitter as the Twins completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles May 15. He faced the minimum number of hitters over the final five innings, and he has yet to slow down.

Tapani, who has won six of eight decisions against the Orioles, starts tonight against Ben McDonald (9-4) as the Twins and Orioles open a three-game series at Camden Yards.

With their ninth loss in their last 13 home games last night, the Orioles became the fifth American League team without a winning record at home. The Orioles will try to reverse that trend against Minnesota, which has won seven straight, including three in a row on the road.

In his past six starts, Tapani is 6-0 with a 1.11 ERA. In his last 48 2/3 innings, he has given up 38 hits, 10 walks and two home runs.

This season typifies Tapani's career. He is 16-12 in games in April and May, but 45-26 from June through October.

When Tapani was struggling earlier this season, McDonald was coasting to a 7-0 record. Now that Tapani is hitting his stride, McDonald is the one struggling.

In his past three starts, McDonald is 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA. He also is averaging 15 base runners per nine innings in that same span.

McDonald did seem to regroup last Sunday at Boston. He held the Red Sox to three runs on six hits in eight innings. He pitched to one batter into the ninth, and threw only 99 pitches.

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