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Shed savors 1st HR with workout partner Dee

Vogelbach tallies four hits; Milone shines in Mariners' win
@gregjohnsmlb
June 13, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Mariners manager Scott Servais explained second baseman Shed Long's expanding role and first start in left field prior to Wednesday’s game with the Twins, he noted it would be “another tool for the Shed.” Then the 23-year-old rookie went out and showed what his skipper was talking

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Mariners manager Scott Servais explained second baseman Shed Long's expanding role and first start in left field prior to Wednesday’s game with the Twins, he noted it would be “another tool for the Shed.”

Then the 23-year-old rookie went out and showed what his skipper was talking about with his first career home run -- a big three-run shot in the eighth inning -- while also throwing out a runner at second base in Seattle’s 9-6, 10-inning win over the Twins at Target Field.

Box score

“That was amazing,” said Long, who indicated he’d give the home run ball to his dad for Father’s Day this weekend. “It was just a great, great moment.”

Long also walked and scored one of the Mariners’ three unearned runs in the 10th as the Twins committed three costly errors in the extra frame. The Mariners plated the go-ahead run when Dee Gordon raced in from third on a ground ball by Mallex Smith against the Twins’ drawn-in infield, with first baseman C.J. Cron’s throw home glancing off the glove of catcher Mitch Garver.

Garver’s error was followed by two more mishaps by third baseman Miguel Sano, who booted a grounder from Edwin Encarnacion and then threw the ball away to allow two more insurance runs to cross the plate as Seattle improved to 5-1 in extra-inning games.

Long’s homer off Blake Parker highlighted a five-run eighth for the Mariners, but their 6-1 lead wasn’t enough to withstand a late rally by the Twins, who scored three times in the eighth and then tied it in the ninth on a two-run homer by Byron Buxton before Seattle answered in the 10th.

While Gordon scored the eventual winning run, he was more interested in talking about Long’s contributions.

“I might have got a little too excited,” Gordon said with a smile. “But I’ve been working out with Shed for four years now, and he’s like a little brother to me. I think that was our first time on the field together in a real game. It was pretty cool.”

Gordon was on first base when Long sailed his home run over his teammate's head into the right-field seats.

“Honestly, having Dee on the bases with me made it even better,” Long said. “He was more happy than I was. He was running around the bases yelling and screaming, and I was sitting there like, ‘Relax, relax.’”

Long had played the first 17 games of his Major League career at second base, but shifted to left with Gordon’s return from the injured list as the Mariners look for ways to keep his promising bat in the lineup.

“I’m learning every day,” Long said. “There are situations every day that I learn from, different things I see. There are good days and there are learning days. There are no bad days for me. I’m just really trying to soak it all in and slow the game down. I got here fast, but it’s the same game. So I just have to stay within myself, learn from mistakes, learn from other’s mistakes and just keep moving forward.”

Long stepped up with a big defensive play as well when a ball got past third baseman Kyle Seager for an error in the seventh, but he rushed in to barehand the ball and fired to second to nail Miguel Sano trying to stretch the play an extra base.

“Just making a play to help the team always feels good,” Long said. “I pride myself on defense. One thing you can control is making plays and putting in effort on defense, even if you’re not hitting. So I always want to be on my toes and help my team win.”

Vogelbach racks up career-best four hits

Daniel Vogelbach went 4-for-5 and launched his 17th homer of the season and Mallex Smith was 3-for-6 with two doubles, but the Mariners went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t take advantage of their flurry of baserunners against Twins starter Jose Berrios until the late-inning breakthroughs.

“Most importantly we won,” said Vogelbach. “Berrios is really good. He’s a strikeout pitcher and bears down when there are runners in scoring position. It’s not easy getting hits.”

Opener works for Milone

The opener strategy has raised some eyebrows from Mariners fans in its first extended usage by Servais, but the ploy worked well for a second time in a row as Tommy Milone threw six strong innings in a relief role.

The Mariners went with the opener for the fourth time this season -- all in the past nine games -- and hard-throwing rookie right-hander Gerson Bautista got them through 1 1/3 scoreless innings before turning the ball over to Milone.

Milone had to maneuver out of a two-on, one-out situation he inherited from Bautista, but he got out of that with two quick outs and proceeded to allow just four hits and three runs over six frames to the American League's highest-scoring team.

“The opener worked,” Servais said. “Tommy threw really well, had an outstanding changeup tonight.”

The Mariners also got a good closing effort from Roenis Elias, who threw a 1-2-3 10th for his sixth save of the season.

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