MINNEAPOLIS -- After a week-long road trip that seemed much longer than that, the Mariners can finally head home happy.On the tail end of a three-city, eight-day slog that featured a postponement doubleheader and an injury to a critical player, the Mariners had to wait out a one-hour, 42-minute rain
MINNEAPOLIS -- After a week-long road trip that seemed much longer than that, the Mariners can finally head home happy.
On the tail end of a three-city, eight-day slog that featured a postponement doubleheader and an injury to a critical player, the Mariners had to wait out a one-hour, 42-minute rain delay on Monday night at Target Field. Once it did, Seattle finished off its seven-game trip with a 1-0 victory over the Twins.
Now the Mariners will head home for most of the rest of May, when they will play 13 of their next 16 games at Safeco Field, and 16 of their next 19 overall.
"There's been a bunch of stuff; some injuries, some crazy games, a lot of highs and lows," Mike Zunino said. "But it was a good road trip. It was one of those things where we had to come back here on an off-day to make it up. You have to bring some energy. It would have been nice to kick up the feet today, but it was nice to come here and get a win and hopefully set up this homestand."
After taking two of three in Toronto and dropping two of three in Detroit, the Mariners turned to left-hander Wade LeBlanc for a makeup of a scheduled April 8 game that was postponed because of weather.
Despite her best efforts, Mother Nature couldn't slow LeBlanc this time around, as the southpaw leaned on his bullpen experience in helping to stay ready as the scheduled 4:10 p.m. PT first pitch was delayed nearly two hours. LeBlanc pitched six frames, allowing three singles and striking out four, matching Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi inning for inning.
"Being a bullpen guy, it gets you used to back and forth and waiting," LeBlanc said. "It's not necessarily the routine of having to start the game at 7:10 [CT]. I can be OK with, 'Hey, we're going in this amount of time.' I think that was kind of a blessing in disguise and being used to that."
Neither LeBlanc nor Odorizzi figured into the final decision as each pitcher departed after six innings with the game scoreless.
As showers moved into the Minneapolis area late Monday afternoon, Zunino said he was grateful to have a guy like LeBlanc making the start.
"I actually told him I was really excited he was throwing today because, starting in the bullpen this year, he goes out maybe 15 minutes before the game," Zunino said. "He has a very short routine, and I think that was in our favor. He has that mentality of just attacking guys, and it's been extremely good for us to have him filling that fifth spot."
In three starts since taking the injured Erasmo Ramirez's spot in the Mariners' rotation, LeBlanc has permitted one run on 10 hits with one walk over 15 innings.
"That's probably priority No. 1 for me whether I'm out there in a 15-run game in the ninth inning or starting a game from pitch No. 1," LeBlanc said of limiting his walks. "It's being aggressive, throwing strikes and making them hit my pitch."
LeBlanc retired the first eight men he faced until a bloop single by Ehire Adrianza with two outs in the third inning. Logan Morrison's one-out single in the fifth and Joe Mauer's one-out single in the sixth were the only other baserunners allowed by LeBlanc on the night.
"Really good game plan and he stuck to it and he executed his pitches," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We got a little bit more out of him than we were hoping to get out of him, which is great."
Mariners left-hander James Pazos earned the victory, overcoming food poisoning and a day spent mostly in the restroom. He worked around a seventh-inning double by Mitch Garver, who advanced to third with two outs but was left stranded there when Eddie Rosario popped out to second to end the inning. It marked the only time all night Minnesota moved a runner to within 90 feet of home.
Nick Vincent pitched a perfect eighth and closer Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his American League-leading 14th save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After stranding runners all night following a trio of leadoff doubles, Servais chose to play some small ball late in the game, sending Jean Segura to the plate to lay down a sacrifice bunt following Dee Gordon's two-base hit to start the eighth inning. Segura got down a good one, as Twins first baseman Morrison charged in and had just one play, to second baseman James Dozier covering first. Morrison's throw sailed high and wide, however, allowing Gordon to scamper home with the game's only run.
"We caught a break," Servais said. "They made an error, and that's what it took tonight. It was all about pitching and defense."
HE SAID IT
"It's going to be amazing to be around my wife and kids again, so I'm definitely looking forward to that."
-- Kyle Seager, on returning home for 16 of the next 19 games after playing 17 of the last 23 on the road
Following a week on the road, the Mariners return to Safeco Field to open a six-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. PT on Tuesday against the Rangers. Seattle will send right-hander Mike Leake, who is coming off one of his best starts of the year, to the mound. He allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings in a 9-3 victory against the host Blue Jays last Thursday. Texas will counter with lefty Mike Minor, who gave up five runs on seven hits in a loss to the Tigers in his most recent outing last Tuesday. On April 20, Minor permitted one run on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, earning a no-decision in a start against the Mariners.
Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com based in Minneapolis.