Mariners Insider Blog

Takeaways: A record mauling for the Mariners in Minnesota

It was a rough night Tuesday for reliever Marc Rzepczynski and the Mariners.
It was a rough night Tuesday for reliever Marc Rzepczynski and the Mariners. AP

As bad as this was, it wasn’t all bad.

The Mariners rang up seven runs and 14 hits Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. They will take that again Wednesday and in every other game for the remainder of the season and take their chances.

On Tuesday, though, it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Twins had a franchise-record 28 hits, which is also a Mariners record for an opponent, in 20-7 beatdown that amounted to payback plus for the Mariners’ 14-3 romp Monday in the series opener.

Christian Bergman has been a reliable replacement part in an injury-depleted rotation. On Tuesday, he gave up nine runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings and committed a notable defensive blunder that fueled his collapse.

Casey Lawrence has been a solid member of a generally effective Seattle-to-Tacoma shuttle to keep fresh arms in the bullpen. On Tuesday, he gave up six runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Marc Rzepczynski entered Tuesday with a 1.23 ERA and had been a key member in what, recently, has been a lockdown bullpen. He gave up four runs in one-third of an inning and forgot to cover first on a grounder to the right side.

Veteran catcher Chooch Ruiz had never pitched in 1,109 games over a 12-year career until Tuesday in the eighth inning. It was that kind of night.

"You can't dwell on this one too much," manager Scott Servais said. "You take a shower and wash it off."

The four-game series continues at 5:10 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday.

Three takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:

***Bergman’s breakdown: It’s worth remembering that Bergman permitted fewer than two runs in four of his five previous starts. But he’s not a "stuff" guy. He needs command, and he didn’t have it Tuesday against the Twins.

"The ball was just finding the middle of the plate," catcher Mike Zunino said, "and they weren’t missing it."

It happened once before. Bergman gave up 10 runs in four innings on May 23 in Washington. In his other five starts, prior to Tuesday, he had allowed six earned runs in 30 1/3 innings.

***Haniger’s cannon: On a night when the Mariners had some defensive lapses, right fielder Mitch Haniger threw out two runners at second base.

That’s part of the package the Mariners missed while he spent nearly seven weeks on the disabled list. It won’t take long for the word to circulate, if it hasn’t already, that runners need to think twice before trying for the extra base.

***Zep’s slip: Rzepczynski gave up twice as many runs in one-third of an inning (four) as he had previously (two) in 23 outings. It’s not necessarily a surprise. Nor does it mean much beyond the damage to his ERA.

Rzepczynski typically pitches in high-leverage situations in a key left-on-left matchup. He got the call Tuesday in a mop-up role because he hadn’t pitched since June 8.

His rough time seems similar to closers who struggle when summoned for get-work outings in non-save situations. The adrenaline and focus just isn’t the same. It’s not a excuse, but it’s why managers hate using their closers in those situations.

Rzepczynski’s delayed break from the mound on a grounder to first base suggests just such a lack of focus. Seen another way, if Rzepczynski was overdue for a clunker, there was no batter time than Tuesday to have one.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners