Mauer's two-run triple sinks Mariners in 11 innings
SEATTLE -- Joe Mauer tripled in two runs in the 11th inning to give the Twins a 4-2 win over the Mariners in the rubber game on Sunday at Safeco Field.
Minnesota will return home for a series against Detroit with some momentum after taking two of three from Seattle, which will try to regroup on the road at Texas on Monday.
Mauer came to the plate in the 11th with runners on first and second and two out against Seattle lefty Tyler Olson and drove a ball into the right-center gap to plate the go-ahead runs.
"It's huge. We always talk about winning series, and to win a series on the road is definitely a good thing," Mauer said.
The drama that unfolded late was set up by a rather unlikely pitchers' duel. The Mariners got everything they needed and maybe a bit more from spot starter Roenis Elias, who was called up from Triple-A, and the Twins got a stellar effort from right-hander Kyle Gibson, who went seven-plus innings and gave up two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking three in his best outing of the season.
"With the way Gibby threw the ball today and the way our guys threw the ball today, it was good to get a win," Mauer said.
Seth Smith had two hits for the Mariners, including his first home run of the year, a solo shot to right field that led off the fourth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mariners utilize small ball: After Smith cut the Twins' lead to 2-1 with a leadoff home run in the fourth, the Mariners used small ball to tie the game. Robinson Cano followed Smith with a walk and moved to second when Nelson Cruz earned a free pass. Cano moved to third on a groundout and then scored when Logan Morrison bounced out to the left side.
Mauer power: Twins first baseman Mauer had been 0-for-his-last-14 against the Mariners until his single in Saturday night's win. On Sunday, he improved those numbers dramatically. Mauer singled in his first at-bat against Elias and doubled in a run in the third before winning the game with his two-run triple in the 11th. Mauer has reached base in 15 of his 18 games. More >
Elias shines: Elias didn't earn a spot in the rotation out of spring camp due in large part to control issues. The Mariners were forced to call up the lefty to take the rotation spot of Hisashi Iwakuma, who went on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, and Elias didn't disappoint. In his first big league start of the season, Elias went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and striking out six. More >
Thompson delivers: Twins reliever Aaron Thompson came through big-time in the eighth. Thompson relieved Gibson with the score tied at 2 and pinch-runner Justin Ruggiano on second base with none out after a Smith double. Thompson got Cano on a groundout that pushed Ruggiano to third, intentionally walked Cruz and then struck out Kyle Seager. He escaped the jam by inducing a soft line-drive out off the bat of Morrison.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was tossed by home plate umpire Sean Barber in the fourth inning following a mound visit. McClendon visited Elias after a leadoff single by Oswaldo Arcia and started conversing with Barber as he made his way back to the dugout. Barber ejected McClendon shortly after the skipper left the field, and he made his exit without much objection.
McClendon said afterward that he was unhappy with the strike zone.
"I told him to keep throwing strikes and keep the ball down," McClendon said of what he told Elias during the visit. "Keep pounding the zone, eventually we'll get some strikes."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Smith's solo home run in the fourth was his first with the Mariners. He went 193 plate appearances between home runs. His last one was the go-ahead run of a 5-4, 10-inning win (while with San Diego) at Minnesota on August 6, 2014.
Twins: Left-hander Tommy Milone gets the ball against the Tigers on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT and will try to improve on his last outing April 21, when he gave up four runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Kansas City. Milone will be making his sixth career start and seventh appearance against the Tigers. He's 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA vs. Detroit.
Mariners: After a rough first two starts, Taijuan Walker will look for his second consecutive strong outing in the series opener at Texas on Monday at 5:05 p.m. PT. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 10.66 ERA in three starts, but he was able to limit Houston to one run in 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight his last time out.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.