The Minnesota Twins shredded Seattle starter J.A. Happ for five runs in the first and crushed the Mariners 9-5 Thursday night at Target Field in Minneapolis. Seattle’s fourth consecutive loss, coupled with Houston’s 3-0 victory over the L.A. Angels, leaves the dead-in-the-water Mariners (46-57) 11 games under .500 and a season-worst 12 games behind the Astros in the AL West (box score).
After Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the opening frame on Seth Smith’s ninth home run, the Twins blasted Happ, collecting a solo homer from Brian Dozier and a three-run shot from Eddie Rosario, who went 3-for-5 and finished a single short of the cycle.
The Mariners had 11 hits and received multi-hit games from Austin Jackson (2-for-4, 2 RBIs), Franklin Gutierrez (2-for-4) and Mark Trumbo (2-for-4, 1 RBI). Jackson’s home run was his sixth of the season.
With a single in the fourth, Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to 10 games. C Mike Zunino extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the second inning. Zunino went 1-for-4 and is hitting .182, 20 points above his batting average three weeks ago. The Mariners went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Happ lasted only 3.1 innings and 82 pitches, yielding seven runs (six earned) with two strikeouts, one walk and three home runs. His ERA jumped from 4.27 to 4.64. Happ hasn’t won since July 3.
His poor outing further taxed Seattle’s overworked bullpen, forcing Tom Wilhelmsen (1.1 innings), Joe Beimel (1.1), David Rollins (1.0) and Mark Lowe (1.0) into unwanted work. Seattle starters have allowed 21 earned runs over the past four games.
“I think more than anything it was a command issue. He elevated a lot of fastballs in the middle of the plate. It just wasn’t a good outing. It was a clunker. But we’ll keep running him out there. These last four games have not been good” — Lloyd McClendon, Mariners manager, on Happ.
“It seemed like whatever adjustments I tried to make, they were right on it. I made mistakes right over the plate. Our offense did a good job tonight, but this was a brutal one. They (the Twins) weren’t fooled by much tonight” — Happ.
After the game, the Mariners optioned infielder Chris Taylor (1-for-4) to AAA Tacoma. The Mariners have yet to announce a corresponding move to fill out their 25-man roster, but both Jesus Montero (as a replacement for the traded Dustin Ackley) and Tacoma SS Ketel Marte are candidates for promotion . . . Robinson Cano missed his second consecutive game with a strained abdominal muscle, and McClendon said pre-game that Cano might be able to serve as the DH Friday . . . Logan Morrison, with a deep thumb bruise, also did not play . . . The Mariners are 5-9 since the All-Star break and 24-26 on the road.
The second of the four-game series begins at 5:10 p.m. PT Friday. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.03) will throw for Seattle opposite LHP Tommy Milone (5-2, 3.58).