Mariners breeze past struggling Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Erik Bedard threw six shutout innings and Franklin Gutierrez hit his first home run of the season, sending the Seattle Mariners past the slump-ridden Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon.
David Pauley tossed two scoreless innings in relief, Brandon League pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 attempts and the Twins managed only seven singles on their way to their fifth shutout this season. They have the worst record in the majors at 16-32 and the fewest runs with 164.
Bedard (3-4) had a lot to do with that, stretching his scoreless innings streak to 14. After missing last year with a bad shoulder, the Canadian left-hander has bounced back in a big way on his $1 million, one-year contract.
He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out four.
After their six-game winning streak was stopped the night before, the Mariners got right back on track before a 10-game homestand against three American League East foes starting with the New York Yankees.
Brian Duensing (2-5) hasn’t been as effective thus far in 2011 as he was the past two years, but manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game he believes his rhythm was interrupted by a rainout earlier this month and another delay that forced him into a relief appearance. The Twins have lauded his attitude and flexibility, and Gardenhire expressed hope that the left-hander could return to form.
He showed signs of doing just that, saving the depleted bullpen again the day after Nick Blackburn’s complete-game victory. Duensing (2-5) yielded only four hits, but two of them were costly — and crushed.
After Gutierrez walked to start the second inning, Adam Kennedy drove a double down the right-field line that eluded diving first baseman Justin Morneau’s glove and was difficult for Jason Kubel to corral in the corner.
Gutierrez scored, and Kennedy cruised home two batters later on Brendan Ryan’s single to center past a drawn-in infield to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
Gutierrez then led off the fourth with a long fly that sliced through a steady wind and reached the left-field seats.
Gutierrez, who reached base three times, was a reliable regular in the outfield for the Mariners the past two seasons and won his first Gold Glove in 2010.
But he was stricken with a stomach problem last summer that lingered through the spring. Gutierrez finally made his debut last week, and he’s 5 for 21 with three runs and two RBIs since his return.
Duensing struck out five and walked two. He has not won since April 23.
Though there’s no game, the Twins will still be at the ballpark on Thursday night for Harmon Killebrew’s memorial service. Some of his former teammates will meet at the Mall of America in Bloomington where home plate at Metropolitan Stadium once sat, then take light rail — the specially named No. 3 train — downtown to the Metrodome where other ex-Twins will board. The group will continue to Target Field and enter through Gate 3 — numbered for Killebrew — before the open-to-the-public event. … Twins RF/1B/2B Michael Cuddyer was out of the lineup for a second straight game because of a strained right hip. He told Gardenhire he felt much better and was available to play. … Mariners manager Eric Wedge gave Justin Smoak a mini-break by using him as the DH, with a day off on the schedule coming on Thursday. Kennedy played 1B instead.
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