Not this time.
Just when it seemed the Seattle Mariners were headed toward another excruciating walk-off loss Sunday, Logan Morrison delivered an RBI double that keyed a three-run 11th inning for a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Sore thumb and all.
“It doesn’t really hurt unless I get jammed,” Morrison said. “So, I’m glad I didn’t get jammed. I was looking for a pitch in the middle of the plate. It happened to be the first one.”
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Morrison’s drive into the right-center gap broke a 1-1 tie. When Austin Jackson added a two-run single later in the inning, the Mariners finally had a sufficient cushion to gain a split in the four-game series at Target Field.
The drama all came late after Hisashi Iwakuma and Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey matched zeroes for eight innings. The first run came on Nelson Cruz’s two-out homer in the ninth inning against Twins closer Glen Perkins.
And it was a typical Cruz missile.
He jumped on a 3-0 fastball from Perkins for a 442-foot bomb that caromed off the batter’s eye beyond the center-field wall. It was Cruz’s 29th homer of the year, and his eighth in 13 games.
Iwakuma carried a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the inning, but he couldn’t close out his gem. He dodged one bullet when left fielder Seth Smith ran down Eduardo Escobar’s leadoff drive at the wall.
But Brian Dozier followed with a no-doubt drive to left that tied the game.
“I didn’t think it was a bad pitch,” Iwakuma said. “He just put a good swing on it.”
Dozier’s homer was the first earned run allowed by Iwakuma against the Twins in 41 career innings. When Iwakuma allowed a two-out single to Joe Mauer, the Mariners went to the bullpen for struggling closer Carson Smith.
Smith had suffered losses in each of his three previous outings and failed to hold a one-run lead in Saturday’s walk-off loss. This time, he struck out Miguel Sano and got the game to the 10th inning.
“Obviously, as a starter, you want to finish up the game,” Iwakuma said. “Not being able to finish is a regret. But overall, I think I did a pretty good job.”
Ketel Marte opened the 11th with a walk against Kevin Jepsen, who was making his first appearance since joining the Twins in a trade just prior to Friday’s nonwaiver deadline.
Marte took second when Jepsen bounced a pitch to Kyle Seager. The Twins challenged the call, but a replay review let it stand.
“I was safe,” said Marte, who also had three of the Mariners’ nine hits. “That wasn’t even close. I was safe.”
Seager then battled for an 11-pitch walk that included five two-strike fouls, but Jepsen struck out Cruz on a full-count fastball.
Brian Duensing then replaced Jepsen to get a left-on-left matchup against Morrison, who entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch runner/defensive replacement.
This was Morrison’s second at-bat since leaving Wednesday’s game because of a deep bruise on his left thumb.
Duensing came in with a slider.
“I put a nice, easy swing on it,” Morrison said, “and barreled it up. And it found a gap.”
The Mariners led 2-1.
An intentional walk to Seth Smith loaded the bases with one out and preceded another pitching change — to Casey Fien, for a right-on-right matchup against Jackson.
That didn’t work either. Jackson pulled a two-run single into the left field that boosted the lead to three runs.
“I mean, you understand why (they walked Smith),” Jackson said, “but you take offense to it a little bit.
Tom Wilhelmsen set down the Twins in the 11th inning for his second save of the season. Fernando Rodney (4-4) got the victory after working around a leadoff walk in the 10th.
Jepsen (2-6) got the loss.
“Maybe earlier in the season,” Morrison said, “something like that would happen — Dozier hit (the) game-tying home run — we’d fold. Not today. And it was good to see.”