The Orioles decided against playing small ball last night. They swung for the fences, hitting three home runs against Minnesota Twins left-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. Miguel Tejada gave the Orioles an early lead with a two-run shot in the first inning, and Nick Markakis homered two batters later. The combined estimated distance was 830 feet. Corey Patterson led off the sixth with a home run, the ball barely clearing the right-field fence.
Jeremy Guthrie took a 4-0 lead into the seventh, and took a seat on the bench before the inning was over. Five of the Twins' nine hits off Guthrie came in the seventh, including a leadoff homer by Justin Morneau and a two-run shot by Jason Kubel. Jim Hoey replaced Guthrie with two outs, two runners on base and the Orioles clinging to a 4-3 lead. He got out of the jam, but was charged with two runs in the eighth. Morneau hadn't homered since July 23, a span of 108 at-bats.
Running into trouble
Both teams had issues on the base paths. Tejada was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple to end the third, and Jay Payton was thrown out at the plate on Brian Roberts' single in the fifth, though replays appeared to show he was safe. Kubel slipped rounding third base on Jason Tyner's single in the fifth and got caught in a rundown. Alexi Casilla inexplicably held up on Jason Bartlett's bloop two-out single in the seventh and reached only second base.
The four-game series continues tonight with Radhames Liz making his major league debut for the Orioles. Liz was 11-4 with a 3.22 ERA at Double-A Bowie, and he led the Eastern League with 161 strikeouts. The 24-year-old rookie will oppose Matt Garza, who's 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA lifetime against the Orioles. In his last start, Garza allowed seven runs and nine hits - including four home runs - in 2 1/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners.