The Minnesota Twins struggled to score runs in the latter half of the series against the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. That largely continued on Monday night in Seattle, but the pitching staff was up to the challenge.
Things started well enough, with Luis Arraez lining a first-pitch single into center field and Byron Buxton crushing a 3-2 payoff pitch to right-center field, putting the Twins up 2-0 from the get-go.
The Twins continued to hit the ball well over the first couple of innings but were not able to mount a sustained inning against Mariners starter Chris Flexen, who eventually settled into a groove and held the Twins down for the remainder of his start.
On the other side, Chris Archer threw the ball as well as he has to date in a Twins uniform early, missing bats with consistency and keeping the Mariners off balance. However, the Mariners managed to score a run in the bottom of the third following an unusual chain of events.
Seattle right fielder Dylan Moore reached on catcher’s interference. On the first pitch of the at-bat. On a pitch that was called a ball. That’s right — the Mariners challenged that Moore’s bat contacted Twins catcher Gary Sanchez’s glove. They won the challenge, and Moore was awarded first base. After a Jesse Winker single, Ty France reached on a groundball to third baseman Gio Urshela, who dove to his left but lost the ball in the transfer to his barehand.
The score remained 2-1 in favor of the Twins until the seventh inning. Archer’s pitch count rose quickly and he only made it through four innings, but the Twins’ bullpen was fantastic. Caleb Thielbar pitched the fifth inning and recorded three outs, including two strikeouts, on just eight pitches — all strikes. Griffin Jax sent the Mariners down in order on 12 pitches in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Buxton dumped a one-out single in front of Winker in left field off of Old Friend Sergio Romo. Carlos Correa walked, and Max Kepler came through with a massive single to right field, scoring Buxton and doubling the lead to two runs.
The Mariners answered back with a Taylor Trammell home run off of Twins reliever Jharel Cotton. Cotton then walked the next batter before he was replaced by Joe Smith, who got the Twins out of the inning on just one pitch.
Jhoan Duran gave up a leadoff single in the eighth but ultimately got out of the inning unscathed, notching a pair of strikeouts.
Emilio Pagán got two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth inning but walked Moore on five pitches. Moore stole second base, putting the tying run in scoring position for Winker. After a seven-pitch battle, Pagán struck out the Mariners leadoff batter to preserve a one-run win for the Twins.
- Archer legitimately looked good, minus a couple of bad walks. There were lots of missed bats, which was an extremely encouraging sign.
- How about that 1-2 punch at the top of the Twins’ lineup? Arraez batted leadoff and Buxton batted second, and the duo combined to go 4-for-9 with a walk, all three Twins runs scored, and two of the three runs batted in.
- The trio of Thielbar, Jax, and Pagán looked fantastic as well.
- Joe Ryan is scheduled to make his long-awaited return on Tuesday evening, so that’ll be fun.
- Byron Buxton: 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Luis Arraez: 2-for-4, BB, R
- Max Kepler: 1-for-4, BB, game-winning RBI
- Gilberto Celestino: 0-for-4, 3 K
- Jharel Cotton: 2⁄3 IP, HR, ER, BB
The Twins stay in Seattle for two more, including another 9:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday and a 3:10 p.m. CT on a getaway day on Wednesday.