Kyle Seager’s attempt at being aggressive and putting himself in position to be the winning run turned into a complete failure for the Seattle Mariners – and one of the more unlikely game-ending double plays.
“It didn’t work out too well,” Seager said.
With the tying run 90 feet away, the Mariners’ opportunity to pull out another ninth-inning victory turned into a comical game-ending conclusion Saturday night in a 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Seattle had runners at the corners and no outs in the ninth against Minnesota closer Kevin Jepsen, needing one hit or a deep fly ball to pull even. Jepsen got a shallow popout from Dae-Ho Lee that was not deep enough to score Shawn O'Malley from third for the first out, before Seattle ran itself into a loss.
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There were a number of important moments in the 2-4-5-6 double play. It started with catcher Juan Centeno not letting Jepsen’s pitch bounce too far away and making a strong throw to second after Seager broke from first. Second baseman Brian Dozier also made the right read seeing O'Malley drifting away from third as Seager tried to entice a rundown.
And Eduardo Nunez and Eduardo Escobar both made difficult tags at third and second to cap a most unexpected ending that was upheld on review.
“I probably should’ve just stayed home, but I was thinking score,” O'Malley said. “I wanted to win the game, but unfortunately it ended up costing us.”
The baserunning blunder at the end capped a night when Seattle failed offensively numerous times. Nori Aoki and Luis Sardinas both hit solo home runs for Seattle, but the Mariners were just 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.
The biggest miss for Seattle came early when it had bases loaded and no outs in the third inning, only to see Nelson Cruz, Seager and Adam Lind all pop up on the infield to end the scoring threat. Cruz was also unable to get his fly ball deep enough to center field with one out in the sixth inning on the only pitch thrown by Ryan Pressly (2-3) and watched Danny Santana throw out Seth Smith at the plate.
“We put pressure on them every inning,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I think we had a chance to score every inning. We couldn’t get big hits and we struggled getting that guy to score from third.”
Miguel Sano jolted Seattle starter Wade Miley with a two-run home run into the second deck of left field with two outs in the first, but it was his broken bat grounder through the left side of the infield that scored Nunez to give the Twins a 6-5 lead. It was Minnesota’s only hit with a runner in scoring position can came after Nunez led off the seventh with a single off Nick Vincent (2-2).
After Joe Mauer walked with one out, Sano rolled a grounder in between Sardinas and Seager and into left field, allowing Nunez to score from second.
Nunez and Joe Mauer both hit their fifth home runs of the season as the Twins won three straight for just the second time this season.
“It’s just a bizarre ending,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “But we haven’t caught a lot of breaks and we caught one here tonight for sure.”
While Cruz struggled during the game, he made a little history during pregame batting practice by hitting a ball completely out of Safeco Field. The team said that Cruz’s shot, which cleared the second deck of seats in left field, was the first ball known to have completely left the stadium.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki left in the third inning with concussion-like symptoms. The team said he passed the concussion testing and is day-to-day. … An MRI on the right knee of 3B Trevor Plouffe revealed a bone bruise but no ligament damage. The Twins plan to sit Plouffe through the weekend and hope he can play Monday in Oakland. Plouffe left in the fourth inning of Friday’s series opener.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte is progressing quicker than expected recovering from a thumb injury. Marte hit in the cage and took groundballs on before Saturday’s game. If there are no setbacks, Marte is expected to go out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma the middle of next week.
Twins: Rick Nolasco (1-3) tries to bounce back after lasting a season-low 2 2/3 innings in his last start against Kansas City.
Mariners: Taijuan Walker (2-4) starts for Seattle. He lost his last time out despite only giving up one earned run against Oakland.