Series win gives Twins needed momentum

Series win gives Twins needed momentum

MINNEAPOLIS -- After going 4-6 on their 10-game road trip through Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Kansas City, the Twins came home to Target Field looking for some momentum heading into the All-Star break.

The Twins had gone just 2-7-2 over their last 11 series with their last series win coming from June 22-24 over the White Sox. But behind another strong showing from Kyle Gibson and a big night from top prospect Miguel Sano, who connected on his first Major League homer, the Twins beat up on the Orioles with an 8-3 win on Tuesday that gave them a much-needed series win at Target Field.

"It's really good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The long trip with three cities is tough. I try to remind the guys that they're going to get a well-deserved break next week after the four and a half or five months since mid-February. But also told them, 'Don't get ahead of yourself and don't let yourself drift.' And they've come out and had two really good games and got this homestand right before the break off to a really good start."

Sano's first career home run

With the win, the Twins guaranteed themselves a winning record heading into the All-Star break for the first time since 2010. Minnesota (45-39) has five games remaining before the break with a chance to sweep Baltimore on Wednesday before a four-game series against Detroit.

The Twins are looking for their first three-game sweep since May 25-27 against the Red Sox at Target Field.

"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."

Must C: Sano's first home run

Minnesota's plan to give Gibson an extra start before the break also paid off, as they decided to move Trevor May to the bullpen to give Gibson the start on Tuesday, and again on Sunday against the Tigers. Gibson gave up two runs on six hits and a walk over six innings to improve to 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA over his last three outings. The sinkerballer has been Minnesota's best starter this season, posting a 3.04 ERA in 17 outings.

"To able to put those zeros up when they had runners in scoring position early and find a way to give us six innings with a cushion, that's what he can do for you," Molitor said. "We're just trying to ride him a little bit. We got him this extra start before the break and I think he's responding really well to that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.