Twins ride timely hitting, Escobar's HR to even series
By Adam Lewis and Doug Miller
SEATTLE -- The Twins took advantage of shaky defense by the Mariners and made the most of their run-scoring opportunities to beat Seattle, 8-5, on Saturday night before 33,566 at Safeco Field. Minnesota knocked Mariners starter James Paxton out of the game in the fifth inning and strung together four consecutive frames with at least one run for the victory.
"It was a good night offensively from top to bottom. … There was a lot of contribution," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "And we talk about if we're effective offensively, it's going to be balance. I don't think they care too much about where they hit. They just kind of look and go play. And tonight we got some good results offensively."
Minnesota also breathed a collective sigh of relief for its starting pitcher, Trevor May. May struck out five batters before taking a Kyle Seager line drive off the right elbow and exiting the game with one out in the fourth. May suffered a contusion and X-rays were negative, so he was listed as day to day.
Meanwhile, Paxton was inconsistent with command, and the Mariners committed three errors behind him. The young left-hander finished with seven strikeouts and three walks in 4 2/3 innings and gave up four runs, but only one of those was earned. Seager, the American League Gold Glove Award winner at third base in 2014, had two of the errors. Austin Jackson hit a two-run homer for Seattle in the bottom of the seventh inning for his second on the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Paxton bit by sloppy defense: A throwing miscue from Seager with one out in the fifth helped the Twins score a pair of unearned runs and pull ahead 4-2 when Eduardo Nunez and Kurt Suzuki added RBI singles later in the inning. The latter was Paxton's last batter. Seager also committed an error to open the game, as a ground ball from Brian Dozier got by him. Later in the inning, Jackson misread a Trevor Plouffe flyball and let it bounce off his glove after he charged in late. Dozier eventually came around to score when Paxton walked Nunez with the bases loaded to force in Minnesota's first run. More >
"During the course of the year, you're going to lose games. We all know that," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "But the ones that are tough to swallow are the ones where you beat yourselves. Tonight we beat ourselves. That's tough to swallow. It'll be a sleepless night and we got to do better than that."
May's homecoming disrupted: May, a native of Kelso, Wash., was pitching in Seattle for the first time in the big leagues when his night was cut short. May was replaced by reliever Tim Stauffer. More >
"I expected everything, but at first … it felt a little like a debut," May said. "But after a couple of hitters, I was right back into pitching mode. And then I just wanted to be aggressive and get back to what I do, and the ball was hit back at me."
Cruz stays hot:Nelson Cruz continued his incredible month of April in the first when he lined a two-run double down the right-field line for his MLB-leading 19th and 20th RBIs. Cruz is the first Mariner to drive in at least 20 runs in April since Bret Boone had 21 in 27 games in 2003. The club record for RBIs in April is 30, which Ken Griffey Jr. set in 1997.
Big fifth seals it for Twins: Minnesota, which has excelled at hitting with runners in scoring position lately, did it again in the fifth inning after Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar's solo home run tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth. Joe Mauer worked a one-out walk, and after Plouffe reached on Seager's second error of the night and Kennys Vargas struck out, the offense came through in the clutch. Nunez and Suzuki hit back-to-back RBI singles to take a 4-2 lead, chase Paxton, and open the floodgates for the rest of the game. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mauer has hit safely in 47 of 66 career games against Seattle and reached base safely in 55 of those games. He was, however, hitless in his last 14 at-bats vs. the Mariners before singling in a run in the sixth inning of Saturday's game.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take the hill for Minnesota in the series finale on Sunday. Gibson, who earned his lone win of the season on April 15 against the Royals, is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.
Mariners: Left-hander Roenis Elias will get the start in place of the injured Hisashi Iwakuma. Elias, 26, is 2-0 with a 8.04 ERA in three starts with Triple-A Tacoma after putting together a 10-12 mark with a 3.85 ERA last season with Seattle as a rookie.