Starter adds to scoreless streak against Minnesota
SEATTLE – Whenever Hisashi Iwakuma faces the Minnesota Twins, zeroes follow.
And these days, when even Mariners hitters face just about anyone not named Scott Kazmir, mayhem ensues.
The confluence of those two realities on Thursday night led surging Seattle to an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.
The Mariners have now won nine out of 10, resuming their winning ways after a lopsided defeat on Wednesday when Cleveland’s Kazmir limited them to one hit.
The Mariners had 11 hits in this one, seven of them for extra bases to match their season high. The biggest blow was a three-run homer in the second inning by Nick Franklin off short-lived Twins starter Kevin Correia, who didn’t make it out of the inning.
The Mariners wound up with six runs in the second as they blasted three doubles and three singles in addition to Franklin’s eighth homer. The last American League rookie second baseman to reach eight homers in his first 49 games was Joe Gordon in 1938, according to Baseball Reference play index.
Dustin Ackley had a big game as well for the Mariners, banging out two of Seattle’s six doubles along with a single. Ackley, who drove in two runs, is 8 for 19 (.421) since the All-Star break.
Iwakuma, meanwhile, continued his career-long dominance of the Twins. He has now faced them four times and won all four. Iwakuma (10-4) has never allowed an earned run against Minnesota in his 26 2/3 innings against the Twins.
In this one, he blanked the Twins on four hits for six innings, striking out nine. The Twins were without three-time batting champion Joe Mauer, who is on paternity leave after his wife gave birth to twin girls on Wednesday.
About the only unsettling note for the Mariners came when catcher Mike Zunino had to leave the game after the fourth inning. He was taken out for precautionary reasons after taking a foul ball off his left hand.
The Mariners committed three errors, two of them by third baseman Kyle Seager.
But Iwakuma was undeterred. He worked out of several jams, most notably in the third, when the Twins loaded the bases with one out, helped by a Seager miscue. Iwakuma struck out Trevor Plouffe and got Clete Thomas on a groundout.
Iwakuma got considerable breathing room after the Mariners’ huge second-inning uprising. Seager led off with a double and moved to third on Justin Smoak’s single. Michael Saunders grounded out, but Zunino and Ackley followed with run-scoring singles. After Brad Miller doubled in the third run of the inning, Franklin jumped on an 0-2 pitch from Correia and deposited it in the right-field bleachers.
The Mariners added two more runs with two outs in the fifth on RBI doubles by Henry Blanco (who had replaced Zunino) and Ackley.
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