Mariners Insider Blog

Takeaways: Mariners outplayed on defense in loss to Twins

The Mariners missed a chance Thursday to climb above .500 for the first time this season.
The Mariners missed a chance Thursday to climb above .500 for the first time this season. AP

Maybe this balances the scales. The Mariners more or less stole a victory Wednesday from the Minnesota Twins. On Thursday, they let one get away because of a costly defensive misplay and some, well, call it bad luck in a 2-1 loss.

Start with the misplay. There were two, actually, on the same play and both committed by usually sure-handed second baseman Robinson Cano in the fifth inning.

The Twins led 1-0 and had a runner at second with two outs when Joe Mauer tapped a grounder to Cano. The ball skipped at the last moment, but it was a play that Cano routinely makes. Except this time he booted it for an error.

Ehire Adrianza broke from second on the grounder took a wide turn at third base. Cano appeared to have Adrianza trapped by short-hopped the throw, which got past third baseman Kyle Seager for another error.

Adrianza scored what proved to be the winning run because:

***The Mariners, after scoring one run later in the fifth inning, had runners at first and third with two outs when Cano sent a drive to deep center that appeared to be over Byron Buxton’s head.

Buxton retreated and made a spectacular leaping catch going toward the wall for the third out. It was, as Mariners manager Scott Servais noted, a Ken Griffey Jr.-type play, and it saved at least two runs.

***The Mariners had runners at first and second with two outs in the eighth inning when Mike Zunino hit a rocket back through the box — but right into the glove of Twins reliever Taylor Rogers, who wheeled and threw to second for a double play.

Bad luck to hit the ball directly into Rogers’ glove, and bad luck to hit the ball anywhere near Buxton.

The Mariners’ five-game winning streak ended, and they failed to climb over .500 for the first time this season. They take a 30-31 record into a three-game weekend series against Toronto (and its expected legion of fans) at Safeco Field.

Three takeaways from Thursday’s victory:

***Attack snoozes: The Mariners have been scoring runs in bunches — 75 over their last 10 games, including five or more in all but one of those games. They were overdue for a quiet night.

The key is not letting one bad game turn into several as happened in late May when the Mariners managed just nine runs in a 1-7 skid.

It should help that Nelson Cruz is expected to return Friday to the lineup after missing the last two games because of a troublesome right calf injury.

***Bergman’s outing: Veteran right-hander Christian Bergman lacks a "wow" factor in his repertoire, which made it even more impressive to watch him minimize damage when confronted with a lot of traffic in five innings.

Bergman gave up one earned run, which marked the fourth time in his last five starts that he’s given up fewer than three runs.

Even so, Bergman faces long odds to hold a spot in the rotation if, as expected, Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly each return from the disabled list over the next month. The reason? Bergman has two options remaining.

***Reliable relief: The Mariners got four more scoreless innings from a bullpen that, currently, is as good as any unit anywhere. Their relief corps has a 1.24 ERA over the last 16 games (eight earned runs in 58 innings).

And it’s trending up.

The bullpen enters the weekend with a streak of 10 scoreless innings over the last three games and having allowed only one run in 14 innings over the last four games.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners