Roenis Elias' curve seems eminently hittable. At least it was to Joe Mauer, who stroked a third inning double into the left-center field gap to put the Twins up 2-0 early. Seattle had shifted Austin Jackson so that he was shading Mauer into left, but the ball was hit hard enough and far enough that nobody was going to get to it. Shane Robinson, who had just swung as hard as he possibly could to ground a ball past Logan Morrison at first, scored easily.
Trevor Plouffe's first inning single had put the Twins up 1-0. Those two runs were all that Elias would allow, but Kyle Gibson was better. He had a hiccup in the second inning, allowing a leadoff homer to Seth Smith before back-to-back walks set up Morrison for a run-scoring groundout. Other than that Seattle had a hard time solving Gibson, who stranded Brad Miller after a leadoff double in the fifth and Kyle Seager after a one-out double in the sixth.
Since allowing six runs in his season debut, Gibson owns a 2.89 ERA in his last three starts (18.2 IP). The swinging strike rates are still lower than you'd like for a consistent pitcher, but the groundball rates certainly help; on balls in play yesterday, 14 of Seattle's 15 balls in play that were outs came on the ground. Nelson Cruz's lineout in the second was the exception.
After the Mariners tagged Gibson for those two runs in the fourth, both teams struggled to put together a rally. Both teams traded a double and intentional walk in the eighth but came away empty handed. Casey Fien held serve in the ninth and tenth innings, and that takes us to the top of the eleventh.
Chris Herrmann worked a five-pitch walk to kick off the inning, and he moved up to second as Danny Santana put down a good sacrifice bunt. Tyler Olson intentionally walked Brian Dozier to get to Sugar Shane, who popped out. With two on and two out, in stepped Mauer.
Who cracked another one into the gap, this time in right-center. Mauer was in with a triple, scoring both runners. Glen Perkins shut the door.
As we mentioned in our pre-game notes, this win makes the Twins 8-7 since being swept by the Tigers to start the season. It's also their third series win in their last five.
- The Twins took seven walks on the day, which was a massive help as the team was just 9-for-40 on the day.
- Minnesota was just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, but Seattle was 0-for-12.
- Joe Mauer was batting .257/.357/.257 after his first ten games this year. Since, he's been 11-for-32 (.344) with five walks, five runs batted in, three doubles, and a triple.
- Shane Robinson was hitting .100/.100/.100 through April 15. Since, he's been 10-for-21 (.476) with two walks and six runs scored. At this point there's no reason not to keep him near the top of the batting order and playing nearly everyday. Ride the hot bat.
- Aaron Thompson, Casey Fien, and Glen Perkins combined for four shutout innings.
- Neutralizing Seattle's 3-4-5 is key if you want to beat the Mariners; Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager combined to go 2-for-12 with three walks.
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