Orioles right-hander Tyler Wilson hadn't pitched in a week going into Wednesday's start against the Minnesota Twins. Wilson was originally scheduled to start Monday before the game was rained out, and didn't show any signs of the extra rest affecting him negatively in the Orioles' 9-2 win over the Twins at Target Field.
He was of course helped by four Orioles homers that accounted for seven of the team's nine runs, but Wilson took advantage of the early lead and had his deepest performance of the season.
Once a steady rain began to fall while he began his pregame warmup on the field, Wilson knew he wanted to pitch to contact, create some quick innings and get his team back in the dugout.
"I didn't want to go deep to guys when it's raining on us out there," Wilson said. "I wanted to give our team a chance to make plays behind me, which they did all day, like they always do, and get back in the dugout out of the rain."
And when Chris Davis' two-run homer was immediately followed by Mark Trumbo second homer of the day in the fourth, Wilson had a 5-1 lead he could comfortably work with.
"I think rain like that slows the feel of the game down a little bit, but those runs went up really fast on the back-to-back homers," Wilson said. "So that sped the game up a little bit, too."
On Wednesday, Wilson notched a second straight quality start for the first time in his major league career, holding the Twins to two runs on six hits over a season-high seven innings.
Wednesday's outing was his best performance of 2016, and he did it by pitching to contact and living in the air. He induced 10 flyouts, compared with five groundouts. He also struck out two and walked one.
"The thing about Tyler, he knows who he is and he knows who he isn't and he's not going to get out of that," Orioles manager Buck Showater said. "That's why catchers like catching him and people like playing defense behind him. He attacks and he never has a noncompetitive moment on the mound.
"He gives up the home run and he gets right back on there and gets people out. We score a few runs, he goes back out there and goes three up, three down. It's easy to like that type of stuff."
For an Orioles rotation that struggled through the opening weeks of the season, Wilson logged the team's 11th quality start in its past 14 games.
After Miguel Sano's leadoff homer in the second inning cut the Orioles' lead to 2-1, Wilson retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced, mostly getting flyouts by pitching to contact.
Wilson opened this season in the Orioles bullpen filling a long-relief role, but he has flourished since joining the rotation on April 23. He has allowed three runs of fewer in all four of his starts this season.
Wilson gets help in fifth
Wilson's biggest bugaboo since joining the starting rotation has been his struggles in his third time through the batting order.
And when the top of the order came up for the third time Wednesday, Wilson had to battle through it.
After allowing a one-out RBI single to Danny Santana, Wilson lost leadoff man Joe Mauer on a full-count walk.
Wilson had been relying on fly balls throughout the afternoon, but desperately needed a double-play ball to preserve what, at the time, was a three-run lead.
He got Eduardo Nunez to hit an 88-mph second-pitch sinker to the left side of the infield, where shortstop Manny Machado made a backhanded play on the run, threw across his body and started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Center fielder Adam Jones was 4-for-5 on Wednesday, posting his second straight multihit game after he had just three multihit efforts over his first 26 games.
Jones, who had been mired in a season-long slump, drove in three runs Tuesday, including one on a mammoth 443-foot solo homer in the fifth inning. He also drove in the game-winning runs on a two-out, two-run single in the ninth.
He singled three times Wednesday and is now 8-for-19 over his past four games, raising his batting average 40 points from .198 to .238.
Rickard wows with glove
Rookie left fielder Joey Rickard has seen his share of ups and downs, but his play this week in Minnesota was memorable.
In Tuesday's win, Rickard worked one of the best at-bats of the game, hitting a double down the left-field line on his eighth pitch from Twins reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Rickard was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Wednesday, but he made an impact with his glove, trekking from his position in left field on wet turf to make a diving catch on Eddie Rosario's foul ball with one out in the seventh, preserving Wilson's pitch count and helping him go seven full innings.