SEATTLE 9, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)
Date: Wednesday, June 12.
Batting stars: MIguel Sano was 2-for-4. Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a home run, his eighth. Mitch Garver was 2-for-5. Byron Buxton was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth. Max Kepler was 1-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.
Pitching stars: Jose Berrios pitched 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out six. Ryan Eades struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Daniel Vogelbach was 4-for-5 with a home run, his seventeenth. Mallex Smith was 3-for-6 with two doubles. Omar Narvaez was 2-for-4 with a double. Dee Gordon was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs. Shed Long was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer and a walk, scoring twice. Tommy Milone struck out six in six innings, giving up three runs on four hits and no walks.
The game: It was a pitchers' duel for seven innings. The Mariners had runners all over the place for seven innings, but only scored when Vogelbach hit a leadoff home run in the sixth. The Twins tied it 1-1 when Gonzalez homered with one out in the eighth.
The Mariners appeared to take control of the game with a five-run eighth. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly scored the first run. A single, an error, and a three-run homer by Long scored four more. It was 6-1, and it looked like the Twins were done.
Twins batters had other ideas. Kepler homered with one out, and the Twins then put together four singles, with RBIs going to Garver and Gonzalez, to cut the lead to 6-4. They struck again in the ninth, as Sano led off with a single and Buxton hit a two-run homer to tie it 6-6.
But as quickly as the Twins got back into the game, they got back out of it in the tenth. A ground-rule double, a walk, and a bunt put men on second and third with one down. The Twins then made three errors, leading to three runs, and the game was gone.
WP: Anthony Bass (1-1). LP: Tyler Duffey (1-1). S: Roenis Elias (6).
Notes: Jorge Polanco was 1-for-5 and is batting .339. Garver is batting .321. Mike Morin retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.32. Ryan Eades has an ERA of zero. The three runs against Duffey were all unearned, so his ERA is now 2.29.
It would seem that there is plenty of blame to go around for this one. The batters made a nice comeback, but for seven innings they did nothing against a couple of undistinguished pitchers. The bullpen melted down in the eighth, but Eades came in to right the ship and the tenth inning can't be entirely blamed on Duffey. The defense, normally reliable, let the team down in both the eighth and the tenth. They say that you win as a team and you lose as a team, and the Twins lost as a team last night.
The exceptions are Eades, as mentioned above, and Berrios. Berrios allowed nine baserunners, but only one scored. It was mentioned that on the radio that he is stranding runners at a 78% rate, and that went up last night. I wonder if he's trying to pace himself, only going max effort when there are men on base. I'm not sure that allowing this many baserunners is sustainable for a season, but it's working for him so far.
I suspect one reason the Twins struggled against Milone is simply that you don't see pitchers like that much any more. With all the emphasis on power arms, a soft tosser who can hit his spots and mix his pitches can be pretty effective, just because you rarely face pitchers like that. Ryne Harper probably benefits from that, too. I understand the preference for hard throwers, and as a general rule I agree with it. Sometimes, though, we need to remember that the point is to get batters out, and any way you can do that is a good way.
Anyway, turn the page, put it in the rearview mirror, etc. Cleveland lost yesterday, too, and we're still tied for the best record in the league. As I heard someplace, you can't win them all.
Record: The Twins are 44-22, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 140-22!