Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy had been cold at the plate (figuratively, though Saturday that was quite literal).
Juan Nicasio hadn’t had the best start to the season, either.
So on the coldest game in Mariners history and sub-freezing temperatures, it only made biological sense that those three would get hot.
There was Seager’s home run (after a 3-for-22 start) and his 1,000th career hit. Then Healy, after a 1-for-22 start with his new team, roped a bases-loaded double for three RBI.
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And Nicasio should be rewarded with a save because he saved the game for the Mariners. He entered with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh with the Mariners’ clinging to a two-run lead.
Nicasio escaped with a strikeout of Twins No. 4 hitter Eddie Rosario and then got former Mariner Logan Morrison to fly out, with Seager running a long way because of a Mariners’ shift, to escape with no damage.
That was big.
And it all helped lead to a Mariners 11-4 victory over the Twins on Saturday in a game that was 27 degrees by the first pitch.
It wasn’t quite as freezing as the coldest game in baseball history, which was the 23-degree game in 2013 when Colorado hosted Atlanta.
But there was also a 12-mph wind chill on the sunny, chilly day in Minneapolis. It was the coldest game in the history of usually frigid Target Field.
“Yeah, that’s the coldest ball game I’ve ever been a part of,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters afterward. “And I thought our guys did a nice job. Thank God the sun was out. I don’t know if we could have played if it wasn’t.”
Eight games had already been postponed around baseball this season because of cold weather.
Yet, Seager and Healy were both warming up (relative term, here) before the game with no long sleeves. They braved the weather in T-shirts and shorts.
FOUL POLE DINGER pic.twitter.com/FgTvCSJVI7— Mariners (@Mariners) April 7, 2018
A much-different picture than Dee Gordon, who was playing center field with a hoodie underneath his jersey, mask covering his face underneath sunglasses. Nothing was exposed.
“C’Mon, man, it was freezing,” said Gordon, who lives in Florida. “Y’all were all warm and stuff but we were freezing. I was getting picked on a lot of the time for having a hoodie on but when we went out and everybody on their team has a hoodie on, then I’m like I don’t feel so bad. This is their home ball park.”
Another cold stat: The Mariners have played 13 games in under-40-degree temperatures since 1988, according to Baseball-Reference, and two of them were in the past three days against the Twins (it was a balmy 38 degrees there on Thursday).
It didn’t cool off Gordon or Robinson Cano. Both extended their hitting streaks to seven games – as in all seven games the Mariners have played. Jean Segura didn’t get a hit in the opener, but he’s hit in each of the past six games, including two on Saturday.
“The top of our lineup has been on base a ton early in the season, which is a good thing to see,” Servais said, and that didn’t include normal No. 4 hitter Nelson Cruz, who homered in each of the first two games he played before spraining his ankle on a dugout step.
“I love the lineup. It’s going to be fun to watch all year.”
And after going 3-for-29 with runners in scoring position the past two games, the Mariners finally cashed in, going 5-for-9 on Saturday.
One day earlier, Servais recalled the previous coldest game he'd been part of.
"I had a game at Wrigley Field (when he was the Cubs' catcher) early," Servais said. "We were playing the Dodgers and Tommy Lasorda was furious we were playing the game."
But apparently no one complained about this one, Servais said.
"It takes a lot away from you, mentally," Servais said. "You’re cold physically, but the mental grind when you’re in there in that kind of weather can wear you down."
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Juan Nicasio.
Kyle Seager found something (hitting a home run and getting his 1,00th career hit) and Healy ended his 1-for-21 skid, but Nicasio saved the Mariners in this one after Nick Vincent had walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning, with the Mariners clinging to a 5-3 lead.
And there was one out.
So the Mariners were in serious jeopardy of surrendering what had been a 5-0 lead.
Until Nicasio struck out Twins No. 4 hitter Eddie Rosario (who had an RBI single against left-hander Marc Rzepczynski the previous inning) and then he got Logan Morrison to end a long at-bat with a fly ball into foul territory past third base, which Seager ran down for the final out.
Morrison stranded seven runners on base in the game.
And then the floodgates opened in the top of the eighth inning, with Cano, Mitch Haniger and Seager each reaching base before Healy plated them with a double, which came off hit bat at 110 mph, according to Statcast.
Clear 'em, Healy. pic.twitter.com/JED22AiACM— Mariners (@Mariners) April 7, 2018
Guillermo Heredia followed with a two-run home run, after he had entered as a defensive replacement for Ichiro Suzuki the previous inning.
So Healy and Heredia each had their second hits of the season. And those hits combined to score five runs.
Both Seager’s and Heredia’s home runs careened off the foul poles.
“The field was just wide enough,” Servais said. “It was great to see Kyle have a good day offensively. Great hit by Healy, great to see him come through in that situation. He’s had a few hard-hit balls and hasn’t had a lot to show for it. But big at-bat. Nice to see him with a smile on his face.”
BURRYING BERRIOS: Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios had come off a three-hit shutout against the Orioles. And, you wouldn’t guess this by the final score of the game, but he then retired each of the first 10 batters he faced, including four strikeouts thanks to a lethal curveball-fastball combination.
And then the Mariners had three hits in the fourth inning, Segura leading it off with an infield single before he reached second on third baseman Miguel Sano’s error.
Cano followed with a looping single to score Segura and suddenly after the Mariners hadn’t barely dented Berrios they then had a 1-0 lead.
Seager launched a home run to right field two batters later that went out at 108.9 mph.
Those were the first three runs against Berrios after 13 1/3 innings of shutout pitching for him.
Dee Gordon chased him from the game with a two-RBI slow roller up the middle with the infield drawn in the next inning, giving the Mariners a 5-0 lead.
EFFICIENT LEAKE: Two starts and two wins for Mike Leake.
Leake allowed two runs and three hits in five innings – even though he didn’t strike out a single batter.
He located and relied on defense, which he got plenty of from Healy, Seager and Cano, in particular.
Leake left in the sixth inning after back-to-back doubles by Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano, both plays that it looked like Ichiro could have made in left field.
“I think it got in the sun more than anything for Ichi and I wasn’t there to help him,” Gordon said. “Once it got in the sun it was tough, but also miscommunication. We didn’t communicate before the pitch if the sun was in his eyes. I wouldn’t put it on the 10-time Gold Glover, I would put it on the guy who has only been out there for about 10 days.”
Leake also walked four batters.
“It wasn’t the best stuff he’s ever had,” Servais said. “But he does what he does. He competes and he finds a way. He got them to make some early contact. I was really happy with the way he threw the ball.”
Kyle Seager became the ninth Mariners player in team history to have 1,000 hits with the team.
He needs 63 hits to pass Harold Reynolds for ninth-most in Mariners history, 71 to pass Dan Wilson for eighth and 77 to pass Raul Ibanez for seventh. All very doable this season.
But he was asked about matching the 4,000 professional hits Ichiro has.
"Yeah, well at the rate I’m going I feel if I play until I’m about 73 I think I’ll catch him," Seager said. "So I’m on a good pace."
Ichiro also has the most hits in Mariners history with 2,538 (he had two hits on Saturday).