After 14 straight losses to close May, the Orioles used the calendar turning to June on Tuesday to meet as a group and, in acknowledging how bad it had been, move on to better days.
A second straight win, this a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins before an announced 5,945 at Camden Yards on Wednesday night, qualifies as such.
“We had a big discussion about kind of flipping the page,” said starter Matt Harvey, who pitched three strong innings on short rest. “We started off June much better than, obviously, we did ending May. It’s a long season. No one was happy about going through that. It’s never fun to even lose a couple in a row, better yet half a month. It’s a good start.”
Outfielder DJ Stewart, who homered for the fourth time in 10 games in the fifth inning to give the Orioles (19-37) a lead they’d never relinquish, said the meeting was to “flush the last month away.”
“It was bad, and I mean, everyone knows it was bad,” he said. “Kind of looking at this month as a new start. Right now we’re 2-0, enjoying the off day tomorrow.”
It’s the Orioles first winning streak since a three-game run April 29-May 1 and their first series victory since taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners early last month, capped by left-hander John Means’ no-hitter May 5. They hadn’t won a series at home in eight tries.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, the Orioles pulled even on a throwing error when Twins second baseman Nick Gordon tossed the ball over first baseman Willians Astudillo’s head while trying to turn a double play, allowing Stewart to score from third.
Stewart hit a towering home run to right field after a two-out walk by Freddy Galvis in the fifth inning, and Ryan Mountcastle’s sixth home run of the year scored three in the seventh and gave the Orioles a big cushion they’d need.
Manager Brandon Hyde said Mountcastle’s home run was “enormous,” the kind they didn’t get as they didn’t win for two weeks straight.
“We haven’t been playing with the lead in I don’t know how long, and we played with the lead the last couple nights and did a nice job,” he said. “And tonight, we added on. That was huge.”
A doubleheader Saturday left the Orioles without a starter on full rest Wednesday, so they brought Harvey back on three days rest with the expectation that he’d only pitch two innings. His contribution was an encouraging one after a rocky start, and only a solo home run by Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers in the second inning blemished the outing. He talked his way back out to the mound and pitched a scoreless third.
Hyde said he thought Harvey “threw the ball really well.”
Rookie Tyler Wells picked up the next three innings and allowed just one hit and no runs, and Shawn Armstrong’s scoreless seventh came before a two-run eighth inning, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 6-3. Paul Fry, the club’s new closer, walked two to put the tying run on in the eighth, but ended it with a pop-up. He pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win, which was Wells’ first in the majors.
“Tyler Wells went through the order one time, three really good innings,” Hyde said. “He really won us the ballgame there with zeroes in the middle part of the game. Armstrong with a really good seventh and an unlucky eighth, then Paul Fry with five big outs. I thought we pitched extremely well, and it was nice to see us add on with a couple extra runs there. Mountcastle’s homer was huge.”
With Harvey scheduled to pitch a shorter start than usual, the Orioles recalled left-hander Zac Lowther from Triple-A Norfolk to provide some innings out of the bullpen.
He took the roster spot of infielder Tyler Nevin, who was optioned to Norfolk after Tuesday’s game.
Around the horn
Right-hander Hunter Harvey could be activated from the 60-day injured list this weekend. He has been on a rehab assignment at Norfolk after suffering a spring training oblique strain for the past several weeks. … Outfielder Austin Hays (hamstring) is beginning a running progression and could play rehab games at Norfolk next week.
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
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