BALTIMORE (AP) - Minnesota Twins left-hander Tyler Robertson walked to the mound in the eighth inning of a tie game. The bases were loaded, and his task was a formidable one: retire Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, major league baseball's biggest hitter during the opening week of the season.
One pitch later, Davis was circling the bases after a grand slam that provided the Orioles with a 9-5 victory Friday.
Davis became the fourth player in major league history to homer in his first four games of the season, joining Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz. He is 9 for 15 (.600) with four homers and 16 RBIs.
The Orioles trailed 5-4 before loading the bases with one out in the eighth against Casey Fien (0-1). After Adam Jones tied it with an RBI single, Davis greeted Robertson with an opposite-field shot to left.
Defending his decision to call upon Robertson, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, ``You've got to go left on left and do the best you can. Our pitcher threw a fastball. I'd hope that he'd throw a slider.'
Robertson said, ``Leave the ball up to a guy, especially when they're hot, they're going to hit it hard sometime. He barely swung and he hit that ball. He's just on fire right now. He's seeing it good. It's easy to say I should have went with a breaking ball, but if I get that fastball down, I think I'm OK, too.'
The grand slam set off a wild celebration from the sellout crowd of 46,653, many of whom came to welcome back the Orioles from their banner 2012 season, when they ended a run of 14 years of losing with their first playoff appearance since 1997.
According to the Orioles, Davis' 16 RBIs in his team's first four games breaks the old big league record of 12.
``If you put him in the Grand Canyon, he'll hit it out,' Jones said. ``Whatever he's doing, stick to it. Show up tomorrow and do it again.'
Luis Ayala (1-0) allowed two hits in scoreless 1 2-3 innings for the Orioles, who improved to 3-1 after taking two of three from Tampa Bay on the road.
Brian Dozier drove in three runs for the Twins, who were playing their first road game. Minnesota lost three straight in Baltimore to start last season.
``I saw the ball good today, came up with a couple hits in some key situations, and that's what hitting is all about,' Dozier said.
Davis knows all about it. No one has come up with more clutch hits during this young season than Baltimore's muscle-laden first baseman.
``He's in a good place right now,' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Twins starter Liam Hendricks gave up four runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He retains his lifetime 1-10 record.
After Dozier put Minnesota ahead with an RBI single in the sixth, Fien struck out pinch-hitter Alexi Casilla in the seventh with runners at second and third and two outs. Casilla was hitting for Ryan Flaherty, who stranded five runners in his previous two at_bats.
But Baltimore completed the comeback in a big way in the eighth.
Starting his third straight home opener for the Orioles, Jake Arrieta was victimized by a four-run fourth inning in which he yielded three consecutive two-out RBI hits. The right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits over five-plus innings, and needed 95 pitches to do so.
Baltimore went up 1-0 in the third when Nate McLouth hit a two-out single, stole second and came home on Manny Machado's liner up the middle - his first RBI of the season.
Minnesota responded with a four-run fourth. With two outs and two on, Chris Parmelee hit a broken-bat RBI single and Dozier followed with a two-run triple over the head of right fielder Nick Markakis. Eduardo Escobar capped the uprising with a run-scoring single.
The Orioles tied it at 4 in the fifth. Markakis singled and scored on a double by Jones, who took third on the throw to the plate and came home on a sacrifice fly by Davis.
Before the game, the Orioles celebrated some of their accomplishments of last year and paid homage to Earl Weaver, the Hall of Fame manager who died in January.
J.J. Hardy, Jones and Matt Wieters received the Gold Gloves they won in 2012. Instead of a ceremonial first pitch, a baseball was placed next to the pitching rubber as a tribute to Weaver, who won 1,480 games over 17 seasons with the Orioles.
NOTES: The Orioles placed 2B Brian Roberts (right hamstring strain) on the 15-day DL and recalled infielder Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Norfolk. ... Chris Tillman will come off the DL and start for the Orioles on Saturday night. The Twins will send Vance Worley (0-1) to the mound. ... Baltimore improved to 40-20 in home openers. ... Minnesota hasn't won in Baltimore since April 21, 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved