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Mariners 9, Twins 6: Losing a seesaw battle

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Errors, bullpen issues lead to a loss.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
It’s not all your fault, Tyler Duffey.
David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

After hanging on for a one-run win in the series opener against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night, the Twins struggled to score until the late stages of Wednesday night’s game. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the offense that let the Bomba Squad down.

Indeed, in an unusual twist, it was the defense. And, once again, the bullpen.

In a game started by Jose Berrios, the Twins failed to score until the bottom of the 7th inning. But after that, the offense made up a 6-1 deficit in two innings and it looked for all the world as though the Twins were going to manage their first walk-off win of the season.

Berrios was a bit rough around the edges early as the Mariners left a runner on third base in each of the first four innings without scoring. Then, he settled in and retired the Mariners in order on nine pitches in the fifth, including two strikeouts on three pitches apiece.

In the top of the 6th, Daniel Vogelbach crushed a home run over the stands in right field to open the scoring.

After opener Gerson Bautista pitched into the second inning, old friend Tommy Milone took over and was dominant for much of his six innings of work. The soft-tossing lefty baffled Twins hitters, tallying six strikeouts and only giving up four hits.

Finally, in the bottom of the 7th, Marwin Gonzalez crushed a breaking ball into the terrace level in left field to tie the game.

Trevor May, who notched a touch-and-go save just 24 hours prior, was called upon to keep the game tied in the top of the 8th. But May struggled with his control once again, giving up a walk to Edwin Encarnacion and a single to Vogelbach. After Domingo Santana launched a sacrifice fly to give the M’s a one-run lead, the wheels fell off.

Blake Parker came into the game and gave up a single to Omar Narvaez. Then, Dee Gordan smashed a one-hopper to first base that jumped over C.J. Cron’s glove, allowing another run to score. Things went from bad to worse when Shed Long crushed his first career home run. Just like that, it was a 6-1 game.

The Twins answered back immediately with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Max Kepler hit a solo homer, and singles from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Marwin Gonzalez brought the go-ahead run to the plate. But C.J. Cron flied out to deep left field and that was the end of the threat.

Miguel Sano led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center. Then, Byron Buxton crushed a game-tying home run to left-center. With no outs, it sure felt like the top of the Twins’ lineup could bring this one home.

But Kepler, Polanco, and Cruz all hit weak ground balls and were retired easily.

With Taylor Rogers apparently still unavailable due to a back issue, the Twins put Tyler Duffey in the game in the 10th inning. He gave up a double to Dee Gordon and a walk to Long. After a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out, Mallex Smith hit a smash to first base. Cron’s throw home should have been in time to get Gordon, but it clanged off of Garver’s glove for an error.

Then, after striking out Kyle Seager, Duffy induced a ground ball to Sano at third base. He bobbled the ball and then threw wildly to first and was charged with two errors on the play, allowing two more runs to score.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Twins went down quietly in short order, and that was that.

Notes

  • It’s been about a week since the Twins have had an ultra-sloppy game...since the last time that yours truly wrote a recap, actually. While five errors is a clear outlier, the sloppy games have been a bit more frequent of late for Rocco Baldelli’s club.
  • Berrios was once again very good yet somewhat inefficient, save for his fantastic fifth inning.
  • The bullpen issues are real, and the front office needs to act sooner rather than later. Guys like Magill, Morin, and Duffey are all fine sixth and seventh inning options, but trusting them in high-leverage situations is playing with fire.
  • Despite the fact that the game ended in the loss column, it was good to see the Twins once again come back from not one but two late deficits. Despite lacking a walk-off win this year, this team has the clear ability to stick with things and stay competitive.

Studs

  • Jose Berrios: 6 23 innings, 1 ER, 7 H, 6 K, 2 BB
  • Marwin Gonzalez: 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
  • Ryan Eades: 1 23 innings, 2 H, 2 K

Duds

  • Eddie Rosario: 0-for-5, K, R
  • Mitch Garver: 2 errors
  • Miguel Sano: 2 errors
  • Trevor May: 13 inning, 2 ER, H, BB
  • Blake Parker: 3 R, 2 H