James Paxton and four relievers collaborated on another lamentable outing as the Mariners, compounding their woes with a season-high seven walks, dropped an 8-5 decision to the Minnesota Twins in front of 33,566 at Safeco Field Saturday night (box score). Scorched for seven runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings in his previous start, Paxton couldn’t get beyond five as he struggled again with his fastball. Seattle’s three errors didn’t help him.
Eduardo Nunez and Kurt Suzuki produced run-scoring singles in the fifth, breaking a 2-2 tie, to give the Twins a 4-2 lead that chased Paxton.
Paxton labored, tossing 106 pitches, allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits, including an Eduardo Escobar home run. Paxton fanned seven, including four in a row, but yielded a bases-loaded walk in the first and Escobar’s solo homer in the fourth. Winless in four starts, Paxton has a 6.86 ERA, but had a better outing than he had when the Rangers lit him up April 19.
Nelson Cruz (1-for-4) delivered a two-run double in the first, giving him 20 RBIs. Cruz is the first Mariner with as many as 20 RBIs in April since 2003, when Bret Boone had 20. Ken Griffey Jr. holds the monthly franchise record with 30 in 1997. Robinson Cano (2-for-3) led off the sixth with a double (leads the AL with eight), extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Austin Jackson’s (2-for-5) two-run homer in the seventh was his second of the season.
The Mariners went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“We imploded and left him behind the eight-ball. It was a positive start, certainly something we can build on with him.” – Manager Lloyd McClendon on Paxton.
The Twins entered the game ranked 28th in MLB in runs and 29th in hits, had their Nos. 6 through 9 hitters drive in five runs . . . Roenis Elias, who failed to make Seattle’s rotation coming out of spring training, will be recalled Sunday from AAA Tacoma so that he can start in place of Hisashi Iwakuma, placed on the 15-day DL Friday with a strained right lat. Elias went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts for Seattle as a rookie last season. He’s 2-0, 8.04 in three starts with Tacoma this season. Iwakuma underwent an MRI Saturday, which confirmed a grade one strain. He’s expected to miss two to four weeks . . . The Mariners committed a season-high three errors, including a pair by 3B Kyle Seager.
The Mariners wrap up a nine-game home stand and a three-game series with the Twins Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Elias, who started last Monday for the Tacoma Rainiers, is expected to oppose RHP Kyle Gibson (1-2, 5.87).