Michael Pineda pitched seven strong innings against his former team and was backed by four home runs as the Minnesota Twins defeated the host Mariners 11-6 Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Byron Buxton and C.J. Cron hit home runs in a seven-run fourth inning against Mariners right-hander Erik Swanson (1-5). Buxton hit a three-run shot and Cron’s homer deep into the second deck in left field scored two as the American League Central-leading Twins took a 9-1 lead.
Jason Castro and Max Kepler hit solo shots in the third inning off Swanson, who gave up eight runs on nine hits in three-plus innings. The rookie didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.
Pineda (3-3), a burly right-hander who began his career with the Mariners in 2011 before being traded to the New York Yankees, allowed three runs – all on solo homers – on five hits. He struck out six without a walk.
Mallex Smith, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma, J.P. Crawford, Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach homered for the Mariners. It was Crawford’s first home run for Seattle after making his debut for the Mariners last Friday.
CF Smith homered in his first at-bat since being recalled from the minors to snap an 0-for-24 slump, but also made his third fielding error of the season. … 3B Kyle Seager played five innings in the field in his second rehabilitation game for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday in Reno, Nevada. Seager went 2-for-4 while playing at third base. … Twins DH Nelson Cruz, who spent the previous five seasons with the M’s, missed his fourth straight game with a sore left wrist.
By the numbers
2: Number of errors by the M’s in Minnesota’s seven-run fourth inning, extending an inning in which the Twins sent 12 batters to the plate.
Our take from Right Field
Swanson joined the rotation when LHP Wade LeBlanc went on the injured list. LeBlanc is scheduled to return Saturday, but with Felix Hernandez now ailing, the M’s are still in need of a fifth starter. It might just be time to see what LHP Justus Sheffield, the team’s top prospect, can do considering Swanson is 1-5 with an 8.04 ERA.
Two left-handers who are off to stellar starts this season are scheduled to take the mound Friday night at T-Mobile Park. Marco Gonzales (5-2, 3.18 ERA) is set to face the Twins’ Martin Perez (5-1, 3.11). Game time is 7:10 p.m.
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