Orioles' late rally not enough in 6-5 loss to Twins

Fox, Jones, Reimold homer in defeat; Bergesen leaves after four pitches

March 25, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

FORT MYERS, Fla. — — On an afternoon in which the Orioles lost their starter after four pitches and fell behind by six runs before the end of the second, an unheralded pitcher and a few hot hitters swinging power bats kept them close.

It wasn't enough, however, as the Minnesota Twins beat the Orioles 6-5 Friday afternoon in the last of six spring games between the two American League teams.

Adam Jones hit his fifth homer of March, a two-run shot in the third, and Jake Fox continued his phenomenal spring with his ninth homer, a towering solo clout that bounced off a palm tree beyond the left-field wall. Both came against Minnesota starter Scott Baker.

Nolan Reimold added a solo homer in the seventh off former Oriole Jim Hoey. Reimold now has three homers, 10 RBIs and is hitting .320 in 22 exhibition games.

The Orioles lost starter Brad Bergesen in the first and then the game in a six-run second.

Bergesen, who is battling for a spot in the rotation, faced just one batter, Twins leadoff hitter Denard Span, who smashed a liner off Bergesen's right forearm. X-rays were negative and it was diagnosed as a forearm contusion. Bergesen experienced swelling in the arm and won't know for a day or two when he'll be able to pitch again.

"I just caught a quick glimpse of [the ball]. I don't think I even had enough time to get out of the way," Bergesen said. "It's just something I'll put behind me and get healthy and get right back up there."

He was replaced by lefty Mike Ballard, who was rocked for six runs, six hits and two walks in one inning pitched. The big blow in the second was a two-run homer by Delmon Young, his third of the Grapefruit League.

Lefty Chris George relieved Ballard with one out in the second, and pitched superbly. He allowed one walk and one hit in 3 2/3 innings, and has now pitched 10 spring innings without giving up an earned run.

"I have never thrown the ball better than I am throwing it right now," said George, 31, who was a first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1998. "My consistency with all my pitches is so much better right now than it ever was at any point in the big leagues."

George, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2004, has already been sent to minor league camp, but was kept around as insurance. He's expected to pitch in Triple-A Norfolk, as he has done each of the past two seasons, but Showalter said it hasn't been determined whether he'll be in the Tides' bullpen or rotation.

"A lot of guys [ages] 28 to 32 start to figure it out. These guys come in with nothing to lose, and you can tell he's letting it fly," Showalter said. "He's in a good spot mentally where he is. … It's another potential option for us."

Jim Johnson (two innings) and Clay Rapada (one inning) contributed scoreless performances and Robert Andino added a RBI double in the seventh, but the Orioles could get no closer.

They've dropped to 12-13-2 this spring and 1-4 against the Twins.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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