MINNEAPOLIS – Russell Branyan is about as low-key, steady-as-she-goes as a ballplayer can get.
But even a master of understatement had a tough time downplaying this Mariners free fall after the team completed a winless trip Sunday with a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Seattle hitters struck out a season-high 15 times, managed just two hits and failed to advance any of their five base runners in losing their seventh in a row.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys in this clubhouse, a lot of guys that are working hard,” Branyan said. “But this thing’s kind of snowballed a little bit.”
If Branyan’s talking about the team snowballing, then it’s safe to assume the Mariners have been engulfed by an avalanche and are crashing down the mountainside. The Mariners went 0-7 against Minnesota and Chicago, got outscored 45-14, hit .158 in this series and failed to score a run in the final 21 innings.
Seattle is on pace for 102 losses, two shy of the team record. But if the Mariners can’t better their .207 winning percentage pace since July 1, they will actually lose 111.
Another sellout crowd of 40,374 at the new Target Field saw an improved, more relaxed-looking Luke French keep the Mariners in a scoreless duel with counterpart Francisco Liriano until the sixth inning. That’s when French left a 1-2 offering over the plate on Jason Kubel and saw him clear the bases with a three-run double off the wall in right-center field.
“The height was right, but the part of the plate was wrong,” French said. “I was pitching him in all day and had success. I tried to get it up and inside a little bit more and just kind of left it over the plate a little too much. And he was able to get some good wood on it.”
An ensuing single by Danny Valencia brought Kubel home.
Liriano struck out 11 over his seven innings.
“I’m not happy the way I swung the bat today, or yesterday,” Branyan said. “I felt like I got some pitches to hit today and I got some pitches to hit yesterday. But I couldn’t put them in play. I couldn’t square them up. I mean, it’s frustrating.
“You’re going to go through times like that where you don’t swing the bat well. But the whole team’s not swinging the bat well. We’re not getting on base. We’re just putting too much pressure on our pitching staff to go out there and put up zeros. Sooner or later, they’re going to break.”
Twins 4, Mariners 0
E—Hardy (3). LOB—Seattle 5, Minnesota 5. 2B—Figgins (14), Delm.Young (32), Kubel (16), Valencia (8), Repko (3). 3B—M.Saunders (1). RBIs—Kubel 3 (61), Valencia (13). CS—Kubel (1). RLSP—Seattle 3 (Kotchman, I.Suzuki, M.Saunders); Minnesota 2 (Hardy, Butera). RMU—Repko. GIDP—Cuddyer. DP—Seattle 2 (Figgins, Jo.Wilson, Kotchman), (Ro.Johnson, Ro.Johnson, Figgins).
|French L, 0-2||6||7||4||4||1||3||89||6.27|
|Liriano W, 10-7||7||2||0||0||2||11||109||3.18|
IBB—off French (Cuddyer). HBP—by French (Delm.Young). T—2:14. A—40,374 (39,504).