Suzuki's walk-off awakens bats from slumber
MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering the Twins had scored just two runs on five hits over their previous 17 innings, with one of those runs coming on a wild pitch, there wasn't reason for much optimism heading into the ninth inning on Saturday.
But the Twins showed their resiliency against Mariners closer Carson Smith, scoring twice with two outs in the ninth, including a walk-off RBI single from Kurt Suzuki in a much-needed 3-2 win in front of a frenzied crowd at Target Field.
Suzuki, who has struggled offensively after being an All-Star last year, was the hero, as the game-tying run scored on a wild pitch while he was at the plate before he connected on a 3-1 fastball for a single to left to bring home the winning run.
"Suzuki is one of those guys who has had to battle this year, but he came up there and got a pitch he could hit to left field," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We needed the win. Wins, we're finding out, are a little tougher, but we found a way to stay in the game, and tonight we were rewarded."
Rookie Miguel Sano started the rally with a leadoff double to right on the first pitch of the inning from Smith, and was replaced by pinch-runner Shane Robinson, who went to third on the first of two wild pitches from Smith.
But after a strikeout from Trevor Plouffe and a groundout from Torii Hunter, the Mariners opted to walk Eddie Rosario to get to Suzuki, which made Suzuki even more eager to come through. The move backfired for Seattle, as another wild pitch allowed Robinson to score and set up Rosario to score the winning run.
"I was excited, I was pumped up," Suzuki said. "Anyone who plays this game wants to be in this position. I don't care where you are in the standings. You want to be in that spot. This is why you play. It's kinda like a playoff atmosphere."
Suzuki said he was expecting a fastball on a 3-1 count from Smith, as he had thrown three straight sliders. Molitor said he also thought Rosario stealing third base likely played into Smith's decision to ditch the slider.
"Whether he thought about throwing a 3-1 slider to Suzuki, I don't know, but with a runner on third maybe it forces his hand to throw a fastball," Molitor said. "But that's just my opinion."
The Twins' only other run came in the fourth on a wild pitch from Mariners lefty Mike Montgomery. But Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson was solid, allowing two runs over seven innings, including getting out of a big jam in the seventh.
Molitor was pleased with the win, but noted the offense still needs to get it going, as the pitching was what kept them in the game.
"We had a home run last night and a couple wild pitches [tonight] so obviously we haven't been taking advantage of opportunities," Molitor said. "We're not scoring a ton. You'd like to see the runs get up, especially when you get a good pitching performance like that."