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MIN@BAL: Andino laces a two-run double in the fourth

BALTIMORE -- With all the enthusiasm surrounding Friday's Opening Day win -- celebrated in front of a sellout crowd at Camden Yards -- the Orioles made sure the excitement didn't dissipate, putting together an impressive 8-2 rout on Saturday night to ensure a series win over the Twins.

"You heard me talk about it in simplistic form," manager Buck Showalter said of the potential momentum generated from his team's 2-0 start, buoyed by great pitching efforts. "You see us getting deeper in the game with our starting pitching, we'll have some fun this year. It's two out of 162, but it's a good way to start. We had good starts to start the season last year, so we'll see if it continues."

Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter followed up Jake Arrieta's seven scoreless innings in going seven frames without allowing an earned run, marking the first time since 2001 Baltimore has opened the season with back-to-back outings of seven or more innings.

The 25-year-old Hunter, acquired from the Texas Rangers in a midseason deal last year, held the Twins to six hits and a walk, picking up three strikeouts along the way. He allowed just one extra-base hit in the outing, retiring 10 of 11 at one point, before exiting with the bases loaded in the eighth with a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,532.

"I got 33, 34 more starts I hope," Hunter said when asked to reflect on his outing and the fans' gesture. "After that, we'll look back and see how it is."

Hunter -- who was backed by a strong offensive performance, including a 4-for-4 Orioles' debut from Ronny Paulino -- was charged with two unearned runs, as the Twins picked up a pair of RBI groundouts in the eighth inning off of reliever Pedro Strop, who ended the frame by striking out Josh Willingham. Paulino, serving as the designated hitter, struggled some in pregame batting practice, and got some good-natured ribbing on the bench for his breakout night.

"He swung the bat well. I can't wait to hear what he says," Hunter said of Paulino, who combined with Robert Andino to form a lethal bottom-of-the-order tandem in going 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBIs off of Twins lefty Francisco Liriano.

So, what did Paulino, who recorded five hits in his Mets debut last season, have to say about Saturday night?

"Making a first impression is the best," said Paulino who missed the first three weeks of camp due to a visa issue. "It's a good feeling."

Added Andino: "I told [Paulino], 'It's that easy, huh? You've got to teach me how to do that.' He's a vet, he's been around the game a long time. He knows what he's doing."

The Orioles also got a solid showing from their middle-of-the-order bats, with Nick Markakis homering for the second consecutive game -- further solidifying any doubts following offseason abdominal surgery -- and Matt Wieters picking up his first long ball of the year one out later. Cleanup hitter Adam Jones got things started by blasting a 2-1 fastball over the right-field fence to open the second inning.

"If you look at the progression of especially Matt and Jonesy, each year they've gotten a little better offensively," Showalter said. "We hope that trend continues. They're off to a good start."

So are the Orioles, who handed Liriano his first loss to Baltimore since May 8, 2010. The season is just starting, but Hunter -- like Arrieta before him -- evoked the same mindset that just being "good enough" won't be enough this season. It's a breath of fresh air for an organization that hasn't been .500 in 14 years, prompting Markakis to dub the starting five "bulldogs" following Friday's game.

"That's the thing. We are supposed to go out and supposed to throw six, seven innings a game," Hunter said. "That's what starters do. That's what we get paid to do. As long as we keep throwing strikes like Jake did yesterday, good results are going to come of that."

Saturday's game marked the Orioles sixth consecutive win over the Twins, their eighth in their last nine matchups. They will strive for their first home sweep of Minnesota since August 6-8, 2002, on Sunday afternoon.

"He hit his spots, and he did a good job," Twins infielder Danny Valencia said of Hunter, who was followed by two strong innings from Strop and Luis Ayala. "We had some good swings, hit some balls right at people, and it just didn't go our way." Comments