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06/05/08 6:57 PM ET
Jones' homer lifts Orioles past Twins
Olson continues strong pitching in picking up fifth win of season
By Thor Nystrom / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- One day after Adam Jones made a forgettable mistake, he received his redemption. The 22-year-old center fielder bashed a 368-foot solo shot over the left-field fence on a hanging slider from Minnesota reliever Brian Bass to break a 2-2 tie on Thursday at the Metrodome. The Orioles' bullpen did the rest, and Baltimore held on for a 3-2 victory. On Wednesday, with Baltimore leading, 5-2, Joe Mauer hit a deep fly to center. Jones secured the out, but he slipped on the turf, allowing two runners to score on the sacrifice fly and completing Minnesota's 7-5 comeback victory. For Jones, redemption was sweet. "Baltimore has been a real good fit for me, and I feel like everything is starting to come together," Jones said. Jones went 2-for-4, and he also played solid defense, showing no residual effect from his struggles the day before. "He's a gamer," Orioles starter Garrett Olson said. "He belongs at this level. Somebody like that, you could have a bad game and you're not going to let it carry on with you the rest of the season. You make adjustments day-to-day, and clearly he showed that tonight." Olson (5-1) continued his strong 2008 campaign. He hurled 6 1/3 innings and allowed only two earned runs on eight hits, lowering his ERA to 3.86 in seven starts. In 2007, Olson started a total of seven games, compiling a 1-3 record and a 7.79 ERA. The left-hander was pitching in front of his father, Ken, who was at the Metrodome after traveling to Minnesota on business from California. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Olson's best pitch on Thursday was his changeup, which had movement away from right-handed hitters. Trembley reiterated the reason why Olson didn't make the club out of Spring Training: he didn't have command of his fastball. Clearly, that command has improved. "I'd dare say, last year, he might not have been able to handle some of the things I have seen him handle up until this point in time," Trembley said. "He's matured a lot and he deserves a lot of credit." Olson attributed his success this year to mound presence, confidence and, of course, his defense. He wanted to attack the Minnesota lineup on Thursday, and he did -- 66 of his 98 pitches were strikes. "I feel, if you pound the strike zone, get ahead of hitters, statistically, it ends up being more in your favor," Olson said. "It doesn't mean they won't hit the balls, but when they do that, you keep your defense on their toes rather than on their heels." The Twins struck first in the game when Mike Redmond doubled off Olson in the first inning, scoring Alexi Casilla from first. Redmond, filling in for Mauer at catcher, went 3-for-4. The lead was erased in the third inning. With Brian Roberts on second, Nick Markakis waged a game-within-a-game battle with Twins starter Scott Baker. Markakis grinded a nine-pitch at-bat, including four foul balls. The ninth pitch from Baker was a 92-mph fastball that Markakis crushed over the right-center-field wall. Markakis said after the game that he didn't want to make any adjustments after fouling off several Baker fastballs during the at-bat. Indeed, the first seven pitches of the sequence were fastballs. The eighth, a slider, was a ball, pushing the count full. That's when Baker made one of his only mistakes of the day, grooving the fastball. "That pitch to Markakis was supposed to be away, and it was left down the middle," Baker said. "I think it would have been a different ballgame if I was able to locate that pitch a little better." Baker, making his first start since landing on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, threw 99 pitches, while going five innings and allowing five hits and two earned runs. He was relieved by Bass, who was tagged with the loss after surrendering the seventh-inning home run to Jones. The Twins had tied the game at 2 in the fifth, when Nick Punto doubled off the left-center-field wall and was singled in one batter later by Casilla. Closer George Sherrill worked a scoreless ninth inning for his 20th save. The victory culminates a series win for Baltimore, which took two of three from Minnesota. It was the first set the Orioles have won against the Twins since May 9-11, 2005, in Baltimore, snapping a streak of six consecutive losing series.
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.