A Mariners ninth-inning rally came up short in a most bizarre way when Minnesota turned a miraculous, game-ending double play on a double-pickoff to to win 6-5 Saturday and clinch the series for the team with the American League’s worst record (box). Baserunners Kyle Seager and Shawn O’Malley were caught on the basepaths on a 2-4-5-6 DP that stunned the house.
Astonishing moment I
DH Nelson Cruz hit the biggest shot, although it happened a couple of hours before first pitch. Cruz’s blast was a batting-practice homer to left field that went out of the stadium and landed on Royal Brougham Way. Cruz is believed to be the first to hit a ball out of Safeco Field. Some estimates had the ball going 470 feet. Of course, it didn’t help the Mariners. The scoreboard hadn’t even been turned on yet.
Astonishing moment II
Pinch-runner O’Malley, in for Cruz, who singled to open the ninth, reached third on a single by Seager. After 1B Dae-Ho Lee flew out to short right, RF Franklin Gutierrez was up when a curve ball in the dirt popped free in front of backup C Juan Centeno. Seager broke for second, but Centeno’s throw was well ahead of him. As Seager retreated in a rundown, 2B Brian Dozier saw O’Malley way off third. He threw to 3B Eduardo Nunez, wbo tagged out O’Malley at the bag. Nunez threw to second, where SS Eduardo Escobar tagged out Seager to end the game. Replay confirmed the tag-outs.
Starter Wade Miley’s three-start winning streak ended with his worst performance in more than a month. Three of the six hits Miley allowed in his four innings were home runs, two of which came in a three-run fifth. He allowed five runs with six strikeouts and four walks. Mike Montgomery (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) turned in another solid relief outing.
CF Norichika Aoki made some noise at the top of the lineup, reaching base in his first three plate appearances. Aoki led off the first with his first home run as a Mariner. SS Luis Sardinas also homered, as Seattle piled up 14 hits.
But there were plenty of missed opportunities on a night when the Mariners left nine runners on base and three more were thrown out on the basepaths. In the sixth, Seth Smith was thrown out at the plate to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring, meaning that the Mariners were thrown out for the cycle in this weird game.
“That was a crazy game. A lot of stuff happened that you don’t want to see. A lot of guys left on base, a lot of lost opportunities – things we don’t usually do. It’s discouraging.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
“We didn’t defend throughout the game particularly well, but you see a lot of things over time. This one had a finish I can’t recall anything vaguely resembling. We’re hanging by a thread there.” — Twins manager Paul Molitor
SS Ketel Marte (15-day disabled list) hit off a tee before Saturday’s game and could be in line to make a rehab stint at Triple-A Tacoma. Marte looks like he’s on track to come off the DL when he is eligible June 6 . . . C Steve Clevenger made his 12th start of the season, giving Chris Iannetta a day off. It was Iannetta’s first non-start since May 14, although the team has had two off days . . .OF Stefen Romero had his first hit of the season with a pinch-hit, two-out double in the eighth. Romero was recalled from Triple-A Friday but went 0-for-3 in his debut . . . Minnesota 3B Trevor Plouffe (bruised knee) appears unlikely to play Sunday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported . . . Twins C Kurt Suzuki should be available Sunday, despite coming out of Saturday’s game after two innings. Suzuki was removed due to concussion-like symptoms, but the Twins announced that he passed all tests and is considered day-to-day.
The Mariners close out the series against the Twins with the first of three consecutive afternoon games at Safeco Field. RHP Taijuan Walker (2-4, 2.70 ERA) is scheduled for Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. game. Minnesota counters with RHP Ricky Nolasco (1-3, 5.54 ERA). Seattle plays Monday and Tuesday against interleague “rival” San Diego. The Padres will mark the Mariners’ fourth consecutive opponent with a losing record, a string that will end with the three-game series against fellow AL West contender Texas later next week.