MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson turned in yet another strong start and was backed by top prospect Miguel Sano's first career homer to help lead the Twins to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night at Target Field.
Gibson kept it rolling, giving up two runs over six innings to improve to 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA over his last three starts. His lone mistake was serving up a two-run blast to J.J. Hardy in the fifth with the Twins leading 8-0. He outpitched Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who suffered through his worst outing of the year, giving up eight runs (seven earned) over 3 2/3 innings. Shortly following the game, Gausman was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
"Every win right now is big," Gibson said. "We want to finish this All-Star break pretty strong. So to get this series win out of the way and give ourselves a chance to win all three is big. So we're going to come out tomorrow and try to jump on them early again and try to get the third win."
Sano paced the offense for the Twins, going 2-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs and a walk. His first career homer came in the first inning on a two-run shot off Gausman after Trevor Plouffe connected on an RBI double off the wall in center. Minnesota added a run in the third on a passed ball on a strikeout of Eddie Rosario that would've ended the inning. The Twins put together a four-run fourth to put the game away.
"They were definitely swinging and I felt every fastball I threw they were swinging at today. I left a couple pitches up, definitely, but there were definitely some really good pitches that they got hits on," Gausman said. "Their report was that they were going to swing at my fastballs and I had some trouble locating it tonight, and I think I threw maybe one too many."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sano smacks first career homer: Sano entered with a hit in all five games since being called up from Double-A Chattanooga, but extended his hit streak to six in a big way, crushing a two-run blast off Gausman in the first inning for his first career homer. The ball came off his bat at 108 mph and traveled 396 feet, according to Statcast™ data.
"I think we were all waiting to see the power after all the hard line drives he's hit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He got a hold of him and that was good to see. But I think we're also encouraged by the walks he's been taking." More >
Orioles squander early chances: The Orioles have lost seven of nine and a big reason why has been a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. On Tuesday, two of the team's best chances came in the first two innings. Baltimore had runners on second and third with one out in the first before Gibson got Chris Davis and Matt Wieters swinging. In the next inning, Chris Parmelee led off with a double, but the O's couldn't bring him in, either. The Orioles finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"I thought one of the keys was the first inning. We let them wiggle out there without scratching one off of him. And sometimes your aggressiveness gets in the way of your selectiveness," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We surely would like to push a run across there and try to create a little margin of error and some positive feelings with a young pitcher out there."
Four-run fourth breaks it open: After allowing a run on a sacrifice fly to Brian Dozier, Gausman loaded the bases with two outs and was removed for reliever Brad Brach. Sano drew a walk to bring home a run before Eddie Rosario laced a two-run single to put the Twins up 8-0.
Hardy gets O's on the board: After the Twins' four-run fourth, shortstop Hardy provided some life for Baltimore's offense. Travis Snider led off the inning with a hit, which Hardy followed up with a two-run shot -- the only two runs Gibson gave up in the game.
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With the win, the Twins guaranteed a winning record heading into the All-Star break, as they're 45-39 with five games remaining. The last time the Twins entered the break with a winning record was 2010, when they were 46-42 and went on to win the AL Central with a 94-68 record.
"I was really happy about that for my first home run in the big leagues. The manager gave me the ball and everybody in here was dancing and playing around with me." -- Sano, on his first Major League homer and the postgame celebration in the clubhouse
With first and third and nobody out in the fourth, Danny Santana hit a grounder to second baseman Ryan Flaherty, who threw home to get Aaron Hicks. Hicks was caught in a rundown and tagged by third baseman Manny Machado. The Twins challenged the play, but it was ultimately upheld by a replay review.
Another review came in the eighth, when Adam Jones hit a long fly ball off the top of the wall in center field for an RBI double. It was reviewed to see whether it was a homer, but the play on the field was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles:Ubaldo Jimenez will take the mound for the Orioles as they try to leave Minnesota with a win on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Jimenez, who is 7-4 on the season with a 2.96 ERA, lost his last start despite giving up just one run in seven innings. Half of his appearances this year have been quality starts.
Twins: Left-hander Tommy Milone starts for the Twins in the series finale on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Milone has reeled off five straight quality starts, posting a 1.69 ERA over that span.