Twins’ Michael Pineda set to return to face slumping Orioles

MLB

Minnesota right-hander Michael Pineda is scheduled to be activated from the 10-day injured list for a Wednesday start as the Twins try to complete a three-game series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Minneapolis.

Pineda (2-2, 2.79 ERA), arguably the Twins’ most consistent starter, hasn’t pitched since May 13, when he allowed three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Lance Lynn and the White Sox in Chicago.

Pineda was then placed on the injured list and scratched from his next scheduled start against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., after having an abscess removed on the inner part of his thigh.

The 6-foot-7, 280-pound Pineda is 5-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 13 career starts against Baltimore.

The Orioles, who own the worst record in baseball and have lost eight in a row, will turn to right-hander Jorge Lopez (1-5, 6.00 ERA) to try to snap a 14-game losing streak against Minnesota that dates back to Opening Day in 2018.

Lopez is 2-1 with a 5.72 ERA in seven career games, including four starts, against the Twins.

Minnesota moved out of last place in the American League Central, a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers, with a 7-4 victory over Baltimore on Tuesday. The Twins matched their longest winning streak of the season, three games.

Rob Refsnyder, called up from the team’s alternate training site in nearby Saint Paul on May 15 after starting outfielders Byron Buxton and Jake Cave went on the injured list, homered and doubled twice Tuesday to lead the Twins. The former fifth-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2012 out of Arizona is batting .438 with two homers and seven RBIs in 11 games.

“I’m just trying to hold the fort down until Buck (Buxton) gets back,” Refsnyder said. “That’s his position out there. I know he’s getting back soon, which, as a Twins fan, I’m sure people are very excited about.”

Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said he hasn’t been surprised by Refsnyder’s play.

“He’s always been dangerous,” Baldelli said. “He’s always been especially good against left-handed pitching. … He’s been doing a fantastic job for us all the way around.”

Refsnyder, who also had a highlight-reel diving catch to snuff out a potential Baltimore rally in the sixth inning, has the third-highest batting average (.438) in club history (minimum 30 plate appearances) after 11 games as a Twin. He trails only Tim Teufel (.450, 1983) and Bobby Darwin (.439, 1972).

“We’ve had to lean on him, and he’s been a massive contributor for us,” Baldelli said. “The guy has always been a good ballplayer.”

The Tuesday night loss dropped Baltimore to 2-15 since left-hander John Means tossed a no-hitter at Seattle on May 5.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” said center fielder Cedric Mullins, who went 2-for-5 and with two RBIs. “We’ve had our opportunities to win some ballgames. Things just haven’t gone our way. It’s just a matter of having that perseverance and continue to push forward.”

Mullins said that despite the long slump, “(We are) still keeping a very positive attitude.

“We know we have a great group of guys in the clubhouse. We’re keeping the energy very positive, and it’s going to show at some point. It’s just a matter of pushing through these tough moments, and we’re going to come out on top at the end.”

–Field Level Media

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