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Edwin hits AL-best 21st HR, his 8th in June

Slugger's hot bat not enough to support Leake's strong outing
@gregjohnsmlb
June 12, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Call it the June Boom for Edwin Encarnacion. Ten games into the month, the Mariners first baseman has slugged eight home runs, including a three-run bolt in Seattle's 6-5 loss to the Twins in Tuesday's series opener at Target Field. • Box score The American League Central-leading Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Call it the June Boom for Edwin Encarnacion.

Ten games into the month, the Mariners first baseman has slugged eight home runs, including a three-run bolt in Seattle's 6-5 loss to the Twins in Tuesday's series opener at Target Field.

Box score

The American League Central-leading Twins rallied for three runs in the eighth off Seattle's bullpen to pull out the win, spoiling a strong start for Mike Leake and evening the Mariners' record to 2-2 on their road trip.

Encarnacion may well be dealt before the July 31 Trading Deadline, but he seems intent on doing damage for the Mariners in the meantime as he's hiked his AL home run lead to 21 with his recent flurry.

In 10 games this month, the 36-year-old is batting .289 (11-for-38) with a double, eight homers and 15 RBIs. He's moved past Domingo Santana for the team RBI lead with 49 and seems an increasingly likely candidate to be Seattle's representative at the All-Star Game next month in Cleveland, which would be the fourth of his career.

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Encarnacion went 1-for-3 with two walks against the Twins, but it was his ninth-inning strikeout -- a called third strike on a 96-mph fastball from Trevor May -- that had the veteran shaking his head afterward.

The ball appeared well off the plate, and a walk would have loaded the bases with no outs, but instead Encarnacion was rung up and May wiggled out of the jam by getting Daniel Vogelbach and Kyle Seager to fly out to end the game.

"It's tough," Encarnacion said. "In that situation, you want to get your work done. But we are human. I know it was a ball, but nothing I can do."

Encarnacion has done plenty of work lately, however, carrying the Mariners' offense with his torrid stretch that includes four homers in the past three games.

"My timing is good," Encarnacion said. "When you've got your timing right and rhythm, you can see the ball better. I slowed down the game a little bit, that's why I've been seeing the ball in the strike zone good."

Manager Scott Servais felt the veteran saw the last pitch as well.

"Edwin is swinging the bat really well," Servais said. "It's disappointing, the last inning, that ball was off the plate and we'd have had bases loaded with nobody out there, if May doesn't get the benefit of that call. But Edwin is in a really good spot, seeing the ball really well right now."

The Twins and Mariners are first and second in the Majors in home runs this year, and they didn't slow down any, with Minnesota's Jonathan Schoop and Jason Castro going back-to-back off Leake to tie the game at 3 after Encarnacion's three-run shot in the third.

Seattle regained the lead with RBI singles by Vogelbach in the fifth and Seager in the seventh before the Twins teed off for a trio of runs off Brandon Brennan and Austin Adams after Leake's departure.

Leake building his own resume
Much like Encarnacion, Leake could well wind up being traded in the coming weeks as the Mariners look to deal for prospects to bolster their future. And the 31-year-old certainly isn't hurting his value with a strong June as well.

"Mike is in a really good groove right now," Servais said. "You can see it. He's making quick adjustments out there, and the command of his pitches has been really, really good. It was an outstanding outing by him, we just didn't get it finished off for him tonight."

Leake (5-6, 4.26 ERA) allowed six hits with three runs over seven innings in a 91-pitch outing and is 2-0 with a 2.34 ERA and 17 hits in 23 innings in his past three starts.

"I still feel like I'm building and getting better," Leake said. "I'm just trying to continue this."

The right-hander kept the Twins in check outside of the back-to-back homers, but acknowledged it was a tough battle against a club that now has 127 homers in 65 games. It's the most home runs for Minnesota in franchise history before the All-Star break, with 24 games still to go.

"They're in the hunt," Leake said. "Like Wade [LeBlanc] said, that's probably the best lineup there is right now, when you're facing all nine. It's a fun lineup to face. Each hitter has the ability to explode every pitch. That's kind of their danger. You have to make sure you're around [the plate] or off the black and make sure you're mixing with them.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.