MINNEAPOLIS – Are the Mariners sure that Fernando Rodney is the only guy who has been tipping pitches?
Their pitching meltdown continued Thursday night when J.A. Happ served up seven runs in less than four innings in a 9-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the start to a four-game weekend series at Target Field.
“It just seemed like they were on (everything),” Happ said. “I’m going to have to take a look (at the tape) and see what’s going on here. It seemed like they weren’t fooled by much tonight.”
If you’re counting, that’s 88 runs (80 earned) over the last 15 games. That translates to a 5.33 ERA and a 5-10 record in that span that, pretty much, flushed any hopes for a belated postseason run.
Happ (4-6) spit back an early lead and offered little to entice other clubs on the final night prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. He has given up 10 runs and 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
“It was a beating,” he said. “It seemed like whatever adjustment I tried to make, they were right on it. I made some mistakes over the plate, and it cost me. Not a good time for that after the few games that we’ve had.”
Afterward, manager Lloyd McClendon said Happ would remain in the rotation and make his next scheduled start Tuesday at Colorado.
“You’ve got to have options,” McClendon said, “that are reliable to run out there other than that guy. Right now, we’ll keep running him out there.”
Happ’s problems prevented the Mariners from taking full advantage of an ineffective Phil Hughes, who gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Hughes (10-6) still handed a three-run lead to bullpen, which nursed it home.
Austin Jackson opened the game with a double over the head of center fielder Aaron Hicks and, with two outs, Seth Smith crushed a first-pitch fastball for a two-run homer.
The Twins, who had lost four straight, answered with a five-run first inning against Happ. They got one run back immediately when Brian Dozier led off with a no-doubt homer to left.
Hicks lined a single to center before Happ recorded an out on Joe Mauer’s liner to left. Miguel Sano’s squibber should have been the second out, but Happ’s throw pulled Mark Trumbo off first.
Torii Hunter’s sharp grounder through the left side produced the tying run.
It got worse as Eddie Rosario rocked an 0-1 curve over the right-field wall for a three-run homer. That quickly, the Twins led 5-2. The five runs marked their biggest first-inning output of the season.
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