Their contributions to this struggling team on Thursday night were sure worthy of a longer stay.
Slegers picked up his first major league win with six smooth innings, Cave reached base all four times he batted, and the Twins stopped their six-game losing streak by hanging on for a 5-2 victory over the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
”I know that I think, and I know Slegers thinks the same thing, that we can play big league baseball,” Cave said. ”We’re ready to go anytime the team needs us, and that’s just kind of how you’ve got to think of it.”
Logan Morrison homered and Cave drove in an eighth-inning insurance run with one of his two doubles for the Twins, who turned to Fernando Rodney in the ninth for his 18th save following two consecutive blown chances. Slegers (1-0) gave up only one run, on the first of two homers by Jonathan Schoop.
”It’s fun to have that in the stat column, to be a major league winner,” Slegers said. ”I can say that for the rest of my life.”
With eight right-handers in the Orioles lineup, except for Chris Davis, Slegers put his sinker to good use against the second-lowest scoring team in MLB. The Orioles managed just three hits against the 6-foot-10 Slegers, who was the latest to fill the recently revolving fifth spot in the rotation. Manager Paul Molitor stopped short of a commitment, but he indicated Slegers earned another turn after needing only 72 pitches to complete those six innings in his first major league start this season.
”Sometimes you make tough decisions to protect those young guys when they’ve had good outings and make sure they feel good when they come out of the game,” Molitor said.
The Orioles squandered another quality start by Andrew Cashner (2-9) and lost for the 10th time in 11 games. They have the worst record in the major leagues at 24-62, just the team the Twins needed to face to start a season-long 11-game homestand after a pivotal 1-8 road trip.
Trailing AL Central-leading Cleveland by 11 1/2 games, Minnesota has become a probable seller before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 with several accomplished players on expiring contracts. Baltimore has essentially been in that boat since April, with slugging shortstop Manny Machado widely considered the best asset on the market this summer.
Cashner, one of the offseason acquisitions by the Orioles that suggested their commitment to contending in the daunting AL East, has had more than three runs scored for him in only one of his 17 starts this year. He gave up three runs, two earned, and six hits.
”It’s not like we didn’t want to score for him,” Schoop said. ”I hope things start changing.”
Orioles starters have received the least amount of run support in the major leagues this season.
”I probably had the worst stuff I’ve had this season, but I thought I just grinded throughout the game,” Cashner said. ”When you’re not scoring runs, I feel like I keep my mind sharp on what I want to do out there and thinking pitch to pitch.”
Cashner was charged with an error in the third, when he was covering first base on a chopper hit by Bobby Wilson to Davis and fumbled the relay toss to let Cave score from second. Wilson eventually scored on a single by Eddie Rosario.
Cave, who was recalled from Rochester last week, made a fully extended catch at the wall in right-center to take a potential extra-base hit away from Davis in the fourth inning. Cave doubled twice, driving in one run, to go with a single and an intentional walk.
”He can really flash it out there,” Slegers said.
Orioles: RHP Darren O’Day (strained left hamstring) has been scheduled for his season-ending surgery on July 12. He’ll need six months to recover.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who has started 80 of 84 games and appeared in all but one this season, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He’s batting .218.
Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75 ERA) will come off the DL to start Friday night. Bundy has been sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (5-7, 5.49 ERA) will take the mound in the second game of the series, coming off his worst turn of the season. He gave up seven runs in Chicago to the Cubs in just 1 2/3 innings.
No. 11 is coming back for the Arizona Cardinals.
New Arizona coach Steve Wilks says wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – arguably the most popular and certainly the most prolific player to don a Cardinals uniform – has told him he’ll return for a 15th NFL season.
Wilks made the comment Thursday in an interview on the ”Doug & Wolf” sports talk radio show. Wilks says Fitzgerald told him of his decision in a conversation Wednesday night.
Article continues below ... So for at least one more season, Fitzgerald will be scooping in the throws – from somebody – and laying down some blocks for David Johnson.
There was a quick response from teammate and golfing partner, cornerback Patrick Peterson.
”Wouldn’t be the same without him,” Peterson said on twitter, with a photo of Fitzgerald hugging him.
Added safety Tyrann Mathieu, also on twitter, ”11 for 15. Welcome back Legend.”
Fitzgerald hadn’t said publicly whether he would remain for another season and there was speculation he might follow the lead of coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, who both retired after last season.
The 34-year-old Fitzgerald is one of the most prolific receivers in the game’s history, ranking third on the NFL career lists for receptions and yards receiving. He finished second in the NFL with 109 catches last season.
He returns even though there is no quarterback on the Arizona roster. General manager Steve Keim has said the team will move aggressively to fill that void, through free agency, trade or the draft – or any combination thereof.
Fitzgerald has caught passes from 17 quarterbacks since being drafted No. 3 overall by Arizona in 2004.
Although Jerry Rice’s NFL career records are out of reach, Fitzgerald has a good shot at moving up to No. 2. He needs 92 catches to top for second in career receptions and 390 yards receiving to pass Terrell Owens for No. 2 in that category.
Fitzgerald has one year and $11 million remaining on his contract and most indications were he was leaning toward giving it at least one more season.
New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said Fitzgerald was the first player he reached out to and that the receiver said he was excited about the prospects of the coming season.
Fitzgerald has missed only six games in his career and has caught a pass in 211 consecutive contests, tied with Tony Gonzalez for second all-time. He has topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards receiving each of the alst three years and, last season, was selected to the Pro Bowl for the 11th time. Among wide receivers, only Rice has been selected more often.
He shared Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year honors with Eli Manning a year ago.
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