Twins get wild walk-off win vs. Mariners
MINNESOTA -- The Twins completed a comeback in walk-off fashion Saturday night, scoring two runs in the ninth and ousting the Mariners, 3-2, with a Kurt Suzuki single off of Carson Smith with two outs. Twins rookie Miguel Sano led off the ninth inning with a double and pinch-runner Shane Robinson took third and home on wild pitches from Smith before Suzuki drove in left fielder Eddie Rosario, who had been intentionally walked.
"I think that anybody who plays this game wants to be in that position. I don't care where you are in the standings -- you want to be in that spot," Suzuki said. "I kind of had an idea they were going to do that just the way Rosie was swinging and the matchup. I was kind of hoping, 'OK, this is what it's all about. This is why you play.'"
It was Smith's third straight loss, as he's given up five runs on four hits and five walks over his last three outings as Seattle's rookie closer.
"I'm sure he was pumped up. He hasn't been in a lot of those situations," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "But if we have a lead tomorrow in the ninth inning, he'll be back out there."
The Twins scored their first two runs on wild pitches. In the fourth, third baseman Trevor Plouffe tripled before a Mike Montgomery wild pitch brought him home. Starter Kyle Gibson kept his team in the game, bouncing back after giving up six runs in each of his past two starts, to limit the Mariners to just two runs on six hits in seven innings.
Nelson Cruz homered for the second straight game, breaking a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning and giving the Mariners the lead they took into the ninth inning. Montgomery threw six innings and gave up just one run, as the Twins struggled for most of the game to mount a rally with runners in scoring position.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cruz still crunching: Cruz has been on a tear over the past two weeks as he extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-4 night with a homer and double. The homer, his 28th of the season, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the sixth and was projected by Statcast™ to land 448 feet from home plate -- deep in the bullpen area in center field. During the 12-game stretch, the big fella has hit .407 (22-for-54) with four doubles, seven home runs and 11 RBIs to hike his average from .301 to .316.
Twins can't bring them home early: A night after getting one-hit, the Twins' offense again had trouble putting together rallies, struggling with runners in scoring position until Suzuki's game-winner in the ninth. They loaded the bases in the third inning before a Joe Mauer double play ended the rally. In the fourth, after Plouffe tripled, Torii Hunter struck out and Plouffe eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. And in the fifth, after Suzuki reached on a two-base error to lead off the inning, the next three batters struck out.
"We had a home run last night. A couple wild pitches [tonight] so obviously you're not getting the job done as far as taking advantage of opportunities, and sometimes guys pitch well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Marte makes his mark: Ketel Marte, the Mariners' No. 2 ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com, turned a critical double play to help Montgomery escape the bases-loaded jam in the third. Mauer's hard-hit ground ball deflected off his chest, but the rookie -- playing his second game since Friday's promotion -- stayed with the ball and recovered quickly to start the twin killing. Marte also made an excellent sliding stop to rob Rosario on a grounder up the middle in the fourth, then collected the first hit of his MLB career with an infield single in the fifth.
"It was a fastball in. He hit it good, but it was right at him and Ketel made a great play," Montgomery said of the double-play ball. "And he made another great play [on Rosario] that was unbelievable."
Gibson bounces back: Gibson's last two outings in July were two of his worst this year. But he responded against the Mariners after a rough first inning, settling down and giving the Twins a quality start. In his last inning -- the seventh -- he surrendered two doubles to begin the frame but left those runners on second and third, getting Mike Zunino to fly out before inducing two grounders and giving his team a chance at a win.
"Really you just gotta get the last two hitters out of your mind, and that's kind of what I tell myself before I got on the mound there is, I've got to execute three to seven pitches, whatever it is," Gibson said of the seventh. "Those guys who are on base are already there. I can't do anything about it. I just gotta get out there and do my job from that point."
"The wild pitch was a big part of our offense tonight." -- Molitor
"It's tough when you give up a leadoff double. You're always pitching around guys. You don't have the confidence to say, 'Hey, I can throw the ball for a strike and, hopefully, he doesn't hit it.' I may have been nibbling a little bit with my slider, trying to keep it down. But I think, for the most part, I just didn't throw strikes, and I didn't get the job done." -- Smith, after letting the game slip away in the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Plouffe's triple in the fourth inning, the Twins now have 31 triples on the year, which is the highest team total since 2010 when they finished with an American League-leading 41.
McClendon was ejected by first-base umpire Mike Muchlinski with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when he threw his hands up in the dugout after Muchlinski denied a checked-swing appeal during Suzuki's eventual game-winning at-bat. McClendon came out of the dugout and argued with Muchlinski down the first-base line before leaving the field and walking out of the dugout moments before Suzuki delivered the walk-off single.
"I was just trying to find out why he threw me out of the game," McClendon said. "His explanation was I showed him up from the dugout. I said, 'Really? I think you're probably the only one in the stadium that saw me raise my hands.' It's unfortunate. I said, 'You really showed yourself up by missing the call. I didn't show you up.'"
Mariners: Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-2, 5.10 ERA) starts Sunday's series finale at 11:10 a.m. PT at Target Field. Iwakuma pitched very well in three games after coming off an 11-week disabled list stint before giving up 10 hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings his last outing in an 8-2 loss to the D-backs. Iwakuma has never allowed an earned run in five starts against the Twins (5-0 with 34 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings).
Twins: Mike Pelfrey will get the ball for the Twins as they close out their four-game series with the Mariners at 1:10 p.m. CT. Pelfrey is 5-7 with a 3.92 ERA on the season and he hasn't gotten a win since June 7 against the Brewers. The only time he faced the Mariners, he was outpitched by Iwakuma.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.