Twins latest victim of Davis' homer barrage
Robertson surrenders go-ahead grand slam to Orioles slugger in eighth
BALTIMORE -- It was one of those innings where nothing seemed to go right for the Twins.
The Twins entered the bottom of the eighth clinging to a one-run lead over the Orioles and had right-hander Casey Fien in the game with setup man Jared Burton unavailable after pitching in back-to-back games.
Fien promptly gave up two quick singles before the Orioles opted to sacrifice bunt, but instead of throwing to third on the play, Fien got the sure out at first base, which led to manager Ron Gardenhire's decision to intentionally walk Nick Markakis to load the bases for Adam Jones. The intentional walk backfired, however, as Jones tied the game with an RBI single to left before lefty Tyler Robertson was called in to face the red-hot Chris Davis.
That decision also didn't work out, as Davis crushed a grand slam that proved to be the difference for the Orioles in a 9-5 win over the Twins on Friday afternoon in the sold-out opener at Camden Yards.
"It was a great baseball game, but unfortunately it got away from us at the end," Gardenhire said. "They had a lot of good hitters up there and we made mistakes with our pitches and they kept banging them through. And before you know it, Davis comes up and deposits a fastball and there you have it."
Gardenhire wasn't pleased with the end result and also didn't like some of the decision-making from his players that inning.
He thought Fien should've thrown to third base to get the lead runner on the bunt attempt, but Fien defended his choice to throw to first because he couldn't hear his teammates with the loud crowd noise in Baltimore's home opener.
"I went for the sure out," Fien said. "It was on me. I just went for the out I needed. The crowd was loud. I made the decision to go to first and get the out."
It left Gardenhire with the option to either pitch to Markakis or walk him to create a force out at home or get an inning-ending double play. Gardenhire opted to go with the intentional walk, which led to Jones sneaking a ground ball past Eduardo Escobar at shortstop to tie the game.
"We wanted to get a double play set up," Gardenhire said. "We wanted to put him on and hopefully get a ground ball. We got the ground ball, but it just wasn't at someone."
It led to a big at-bat for Davis, who has been the hottest hitter in baseball in the early going. And Davis came through yet again with his fourth homer in four games on a first-pitch fastball from Robertson.
"You'd hope he'd throw a slider, but he threw a fastball, so we'll have to talk about that," Gardenhire said.
Robertson, though, said it was more to do with the location of the pitch, as he left the fastball up in the zone.
"When you leave the ball up to a guy, especially when they're hot, they're going to hit it hard," Robertson said. "He barely swung. He's just on fire right now."
Davis, who already has 16 RBIs in four games, was simply happy to see the ball keep carrying until it landed beyond the left-field fence.
"I was looking for something out over the plate that I could [drive]," Davis said. "I thought when I hit it that's where it was, and the ball just kept carrying."
It spoiled a strong effort offensively from Brian Dozier, who tied a career-high with three RBIs to pace the offense.
Dozier had a two-run triple as part of a four-run fourth inning for the Twins and later provided a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth.
Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks didn't factor into the decision, as he couldn't hold the early lead and gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings.
"I think I'd throw a good slider or curveball or changeup early and then I'd try to throw a better one and I'd yank it," Hendriks said. "So I was giving them hitters' counts."
Even with Hendriks struggling, the Twins were still in line for the win late in the game, but the bullpen just didn't come through.
"We were a little beat up in our bullpen and it just didn't work out for us," Gardenhire said. "But we battled and had some big hits. We had a lead and we tried to hang on, but it just didn't work out."