Orioles beat writers Eduardo Encina and Peter Schmuck discuss the O's 6-2 loss to the Twins Saturday. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)
In what was shaping up to be one of the great buzz-kills in recent Orioles history, the O’s almost followed their uplifting Opening Day victory with the ultimate downer in Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park.
Minnesota Twins pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly combined to carry a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Jonathan Schoop poked a two-out, ground-ball single through the left side of the infield to turn it into a slightly less discouraging evening.
Four more outs and it would have been the first no-hitter pitched against the Orioles since Seattle Mariners pitcher Hishasi Iwakuma turned the trick Aug. 12, 2015, at Safeco Field.
Instead, the O’s went on to break up the shutout when Tim Beckham hit a two-run homer off reliever Gabriel Moya with one out in the ninth.
Gibson walked five batters and ran his pitch count to 102 before turning the game over to Pressly. He easily outdueled Orioles starter Andrew Cashner and left with a five-run lead.
“Changeup...sharp breaking ball...some ride on the fastball,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “He [Gibson] had all three pitches there and really he kind of changed the tilt a little bit on his breaking ball now and then...He had everything working. He had all the pitches he had in the hitters’ mind, so you had to honor all of them.”
The Orioles struck out six times and the only O’s hitter to make solid contact while Gibson was on the mound was the last batter he faced. Trey Mancini hit a low line drive that appeared destined to be a hit until Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario showed that it’s possible to slide and juggle at the same time.
He barely gloved the ball at ground level and flipped it in the air before reaching out and grabbing it with his other hand.
“It was pretty fitting, I’d say,’’ Mancini said. “It was a great catch. I’ve got to tip my cap to him there — great heads up play. That’s not easy, even if the ball pops up like that. Just snagged it. It was a great catch and I wish it wasn’t me that hit it. I wish I was maybe watching the game on TV and other teams were playing, but that’s baseball right there.”
Pressly took over and the Orioles hitters looked just as helpless in a quick seventh inning, but he walked Manny Machado with two outs in the eighth and Schoop scraped his first hit of the year past second base to end the suspense.
Cashner’s rocky debut featured three home runs and five extra-base hits, but it was largely irrelevant on a night when the Orioles’ only offensive star to that point was Machado, who walked three times in four plate appearances.
Two other O’s pitchers made their major league debuts. Rule 5 left-hander Nestor Cortes pitched two eventful innings and allowed one run. He loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and then worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a double play.
Fellow Rule 5 draft pick Pedro Araujo came on in the eighth and retired the Twins in order before Miguel Castro came on to finish up.
The loss evened the season-opening series at a game apiece going into Sunday’s finale, which features the 2018 debut of O’s right-hander Kevin Gausman. Jose Berrios will be making his season debut for the Twins.