SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners don’t need to play a flawless game to beat baseball’s best teams, but they have to come closer to it than they did Friday night.
The American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins turned two Mariners errors, a passed ball and a wild pitch – along with 12 of their own hits – into a 6-3 victory at Safeco Field.
Danny Valencia’s two-run triple keyed a three-run rally in the sixth inning as the Twins turned a close game into their 74th victory.
Chone Figgins’s RBI groundout in the third inning and Josh Wilson’s RBI single in the seventh were all the Mariners managed off Twins starter Scott Baker, who allowed five hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
The Mariners managed their third run in the ninth on Figgins’ two-out single off reliever Jon Rauch, scoring Wilson.
That run-by-the-hour offense, along with their misplays in the field, were enough to stick the Mariners with their 78th loss, seven of those by starting pitcher Jason Vargas. He allowed nine hits and four earned runs in six innings, falling to 9-7 in his 25th start.
Valencia’s triple to right-center field on a two-strike cutter by Vargas that hung over the outer half of the plate turned a 2-1 Twins lead into a 4-1 score. Alexi Casilla’s infield hit two batters later scored another run.
“The triple in his last inning hurt,” Mariners manager Daren Brown said. “It was a two-run game to that point and it kind of got away from us there.”
Vargas, who allowed four runs in the first inning against the Yankees in his last start, gave up three hits and a run in the first on Friday. He was helped by a strong relay throw from Wilson, who threw out Denard Span at the plate after Orlando Hudson’s double.
A walk and Jason Repko’s single in the second, along with a passed ball committed by catcher Adam Moore, set up the Twins’ second run when Drew Butera hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
After that, Vargas retired 11 of the next 12 he faced before the Twins’ three-run spurt during the sixth inning.
“He made some good pitches the first inning. They hit some good pitches,” Brown said. “And then he settled down from there. I don’t think it was nearly as bad as his last outing in the first inning. He left a few balls up in the zone, but overall it wasn’t a bad job. The triple was the big hit as far as his outing goes.”
With two hits, the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki needs 35 in the final 34 games to reach 200 hits for the 10th consecutive season.
E—Cuddyer (5), I.Suzuki (4), Jo.Wilson (14). LOB—Minnesota 8, Seattle 9. 2B—O.Hudson 2 (21), Mauer (40). 3B—Valencia (1), I.Suzuki (3). RBIs—Mauer 2 (69), Valencia 2 (22), A.Casilla (14), Butera (11), Figgins 2 (32), Jo.Wilson (18). SB—Repko (1). SF—Butera. RLISP—Minnesota 5 (Span, Butera 2, Delm.Young 2); Seattle 6 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins 2, A.Moore 2, Branyan). GIDP—Jo.Lopez, A.Moore. DP—Minnesota 2 (Valencia, O.Hudson, Cuddyer), (A.Casilla, O.Hudson, Cuddyer).
|S.Baker W, 12-9||62/3||5||2||2||3||4||101||4.55|
|R.Flores H, 1||1/3||2||0||0||1||0||23||0.00|
|Guerrier H, 21||1||0||0||0||0||0||7||3.51|
|J.Vargas L, 9-7||6||9||5||4||1||3||103||3.53|
IR-S—R.Flores 2-0, Guerrier 3-0. WP—Aardsma. PB—A.Moore. T—2:56. A—37,798 (47,878).