Twins plate five total runs in final three of four-game set
By Betsy Helfand
MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second straight game, after not having their best day at the plate, the Twins entered the bottom of the ninth on Sunday down a run. And for the second straight game, the Twins tied it up. But unlike Saturday, the Twins were unable to come up with the go-ahead run they needed after that and lost to the Mariners, 4-1, in 11 innings.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma cruised through the eight innings, giving up just one hit -- a double to Eduardo Escobar -- and a walk. At one point, he retired 17 straight batters. And had Iwakuma completed the one-hitter, it would have been the second time in three days that the Twins were one-hit.
"I think when guys are trying really hard to create things, I don't know how many balls we pulled for outs today, but it seemed significant to me," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We didn't use the whole field, which you need to do on a guy like that."
After forcing extras, the Twins' bats went silent in the 10th inning, despite third baseman Trevor Plouffe working a leadoff walk. Eddie Rosario couldn't put down a sacrifice bunt, with his best attempt rolling just foul, and neither Torii Hunter nor Kurt Suzuki behind him could do anything, either.
But the quiet bats -- the Twins had just 11 hits in the last three games of the series -- don't seem to be a concern to second baseman Brian Dozier, who plated their lone run of the game with a homer in the ninth.
"You look up, just a couple hits, but today we swung the bat pretty well in my opinion. As an offensive unit, you don't look at results," Dozier said. "Obviously that's what matters but at the same time, if you're swinging good, everyone has a good approach, you're lining out, they're making web gems behind Iwakuma, that kind of stuff, sometimes you've just got to tip your hat."
Most notably, designated hitter Miguel Sano ripped a hard liner just inches away from Iwakuma's face that came off the bat at 105 mph, according to Statcast™ data, and the pitcher snared it for the out. Shortstop Brad Miller and third baseman Kyle Seager also made nice plays on the Twins.
"You take a look back at it, pretty much one through nine, everybody hit the ball hard," Dozier said. "They made a lot of good plays on us."
Iwakuma mixed his pitches well, shutting down a Twins offense that he has historically dominated. But the Twins now head to Toronto, where they will face off against a potent Blue Jays offense, and they'll likely need to hit better than they did against Iwakuma to retain their hold on the second American League Wild Card spot. Toronto and Baltimore are one game behind Minnesota.
"We just kind of did what [Iwakuma] wanted us to do, and that was keep trying to get pull-conscious," Molitor said. "It wasn't a very good formula for us."
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.