July 31, 2010 in Sports

Bad habits cost M’s

Seattle misses opportunities, helps Twins with errors
Geoff Baker Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Seattle’s Chone Figgins is tagged out by Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy trying to steal second base in the first inning.
(Full-size photo)

MINNEAPOLIS – Their first game in the newest of major league ballparks still brought out the same old bad stuff that symbolizes what this Mariners season has been about.

For all the good the Mariners did Friday night, starting around the midway point of a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, it wasn’t enough to erase all of their early mistakes in the field and at the plate. And those mistakes loomed large in a game that came down to a battle of bullpens.

The Twins got a pair of two-run homers, from Jim Thome in the second inning and Alexi Casilla in the fifth, then withstood a late comeback by the Mariners to spoil Seattle’s debut game at spanking new Target Field. Finishing things off in the ninth was new Twins closer Matt Capps, acquired Thursday from the Washington Nationals for catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

With one more loss tonight, the Mariners would equal their worst record for a single month, the 6-22 mark produced in August of their inaugural 1977 season.

A sellout crowd of 40,596, the 48th in a row for the Twins, saw the home team take a 3-0 lead on three unearned runs caused by errors from Chone Figgins and Josh Wilson.

Mariners starter Doug Fister had retired his first five batters and was en route to a sixth when Figgins flubbed a grounder hit his way. The next pitch was smacked just over the left-field wall by Thome to open the scoring.

An inning later, with two out and a runner on third, Wilson bobbled a grounder by Joe Mauer. The recovery and throw by Wilson were too late and the run scored.

While all of this was going on, the Mariners were once again up to their usual tricks in regard to situational hitting.

Seattle had the bases loaded and one out in the top of the second of a still-scoreless game against Twins starter Scott Baker. But Josh Wilson went down swinging on a 1-2 pitch, while Jack Wilson popped out foul to end the inning.

Josh Wilson had another chance in the fourth inning, his team down 3-0, but popped out with two on and two out.

Things looked dire indeed when Casilla hit a two-run homer off Fister off the top of a high right-field wall in the fifth for a 5-0 lead.

But instead of wilting after Casilla’s blast, the Mariners suddenly sprang to life in the sixth.

Russell Branyan led off with his second double of the game, then scored on a single to center by Franklin Gutierrez. With two on and two out, Josh Wilson hit a double to the gap in right center that cleared the bases and brought the Mariners to within two runs.

But the hitting stopped there.

Wilson was still at second with only one out when the Twins went to the bullpen. Jesse Crain came on and got Jack Wilson to ground out, then fanned Ichiro Suzuki to end the inning.

The bullpen had taken over for Fister after five innings and held the Twins off the scoreboard with Jamey Wright, Garrett Olson and Brian Sweeney doing the work. In fact, the Twins managed just the two earned runs on Casilla’s homer after the third inning.

I.Suzuki rf 501001.310
Figgins 2b 503000.241
Kotchman 1b 500001.222
Branyan dh 412001.263
F.Gutierrez cf 312110.249
M.Saunders lf 210010.240
J.Bard c 200021.231
Jo.Wilson 3b 401201.258
Ja.Wilson ss 400000.247
Totals 3439345
Minnesota ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
Span cf 401000.276
A.Casilla 2b 411201.286
Mauer c 200020.308
Delm.Young lf 401000.333
Kubel rf 400001.257
Cuddyer 1b 411000.278
Thome dh 411202.258
Valencia 3b 301010.385
Hardy ss 422000.267
Totals 3358434
Seattle 000003000—392
Minnesota 02102000x—580

E—Figgins (12), Jo.Wilson (11). LOB—Seattle 9, Minnesota 7. 2B—Branyan 2 (14), Jo.Wilson (10). HR—Thome (13), off Fister; A.Casilla (1), off Fister. RBIs—F.Gutierrez (42), Jo.Wilson 2 (16), A.Casilla 2 (8), Thome 2 (33). SB—F.Gutierrez (15). CS—Figgins (8), Span (3). S—M.Saunders. RLISP—Seattle 5 (Ja.Wilson 2, Jo.Wilson, I.Suzuki, F.Gutierrez); Minnesota 2 (Hardy, Kubel).

Fister L, 3-7 555213823.57
J.Wright 110011244.75
Olson 110010215.30
B.Sweeney 11000093.92
S.Baker W, 9-9 51/373342865.00
Crain H, 10 2/310001183.12
Mijares H, 8 2/30000192.78
Guerrier H, 16 11/300000172.96
Capps S, 1-1 110001140.00

IR-S—Crain 1-0, Mijares 1-0, Guerrier 1-0. WP—Mijares. T—2:58. A—40,596 (39,504).

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