Mariners Insider Blog

Twins’ early barrage sinks Miranda and the Mariners

Right fielder Mitch Haniger made a desperate (and futile) lunge at Brian Dozier’s wind-blown fly ball in the first inning. The ball fell for a leadoff double that ignited Minnesota’s five-run burst.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger made a desperate (and futile) lunge at Brian Dozier’s wind-blown fly ball in the first inning. The ball fell for a leadoff double that ignited Minnesota’s five-run burst. AP

If Mariners lefty Ariel Miranda was overdue for a clunker, this 6-2 loss Thursday afternoon to the Minnesota Twins certainly qualifies.

Miranda entered the day on a run of six starts in which he’d allowed two or fewer runs. That tied for the longest such streak this season in the majors.

He’d given up two or fewer runs in 10 starts overall. Only Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, with 11, had more.

So what happens?

Miranda (6-3) gave up two homers and five runs in the first inning and another run (on another homer) before exiting after just four innings. He lost for the first time since April 22.

"Today was not my day," he said. "I didn’t have any command of my pitches. My velocity today, I knew I didn’t have it. And my command (on the off-speed pitches) was not there."

Manager Scott Servais said, pointedly, that Miranda needed to stick longer with his fastball, diminished velocity or not.

"Ariel wasn't real sharp coming out of the chute," Servais said. "The thing with Ariel is he has to pitch off his fastball. His fastball has some life up in the zone, and he’s got to stick with it.

"Today, he got away from it and started going to a lot of off-speed stuff early. You’ve got to keep throwing the fastball until you get a feel for it because that is his pitch. It sets up everything else."

Who knows?

Maybe that Twins would have feasted on that Miranda’s fastball. As it was, the Mariners found themselves in an early hole and never recovered against Twins starter Jose Berrios and settled for a split in the four-game series.

Berrios (6-1) allowed five hits while striking out six in eight innings before Brandon Kintzler closed out the game.

"We knew going in that Berrios had very good stuff," Servais said. "An electric fastball. A good breaking ball. Give him credit. We’ve been swinging the bats very well, and he shut us down."

Chase De Jong replaced Miranda to start the fifth and threw 54 pitches over four innings, which likely means he’s headed back to Triple-A Tacoma in a switch for a fresh arm before Friday’s series opener at Texas.

This was bad from the start — right fielder Mitch Haniger, tormented by the wind, misplayed Brian Dozier’s leadoff fly into a double.

"On my original read," Haniger said, "I thought it was going to be right over my shoulder. Then it got up in that jet stream, and I did not expect it to go that far.

"I was tracking it. I looked back to see that I had enough room at the wall, and when I looked back it was 20 feet farther than I expected it."

It was downhill from there.

Dozier went to third on a wild pitch before Eduardo Escobar yanked a low-and-away changeup into the left-field seats for a 2-0 lead.

It got worse.

Miranda walked Miguel Sano and gave up a two-out bunt single to Jorge Polanco before Chris Gimenez lined another changeup into the left-field seats for a 5-0 lead.

When Miranda started the second inning by hitting Dozier, it brought warnings to both benches. (The same thing happened Wednesday after Minnesota’s Ervin Santana hit two Mariners. Both times, nothing further happened)

The Mariners then pulled one run back in the third on Ben Gamel’s two-out RBI single, but Gimenez answered later in the inning with another homer — a leadoff drive that just hooked around the left-field pole.

Berrios yielded the game’s final run when Gamel opened the sixth inning with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Robinson Cano’s single up the middle.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Haniger’s misplay in right field on Dozier’s leadoff fly ball in the first inning set the tone.

"On the field, you’d feel the wind blowing in," Haniger said. "But on the top rafters, (the flags showed) it was blowing out. So just a bad read.

"I need to make that play. The next time here, it’ll be a different story. This was my first day game here. It wasn’t playing like that in the past couple of games."

PLUS: Gamel went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .345. He has 15 hits in his last 30 at-bats…Kyle Seager also had two of the Mariners’ six hits…Taylor Motter stayed above the Mendoza Line at .203 by going 1-for-3. He also stole his eighth base.

MINUS: Haniger went hitless in four at-bats in addition to his rough day in right field…Nelson Cruz went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last nine at-bats…Miranda’s ERA jumped from 3.67 to 4.17.

STAT PACK: Gimenez is the first Twins catcher to hit more than one homer in a game since Joe Mauer on Aug. 18, 2009 at Texas.

QUOTABLE: Servais on De Jong, who allowed one hit in four innings: "He comes in and gives us four zeroes. Saved our bullpen a little bit. Those guys in that long relief role have done a great job all year.

"They’ve stepped in and allowed this thing to keep moving forward even when we have a rough day."

INJURY UPDATES: Revised plans for shortstop Jean Segura include a brief rehab assignment at Tacoma in his recovery from a high right ankle sprain. Segura will undergo a more-intense workout prior to Friday’s game at Texas. If no problems surface, Segura could join the Rainiers by the end of the weekend….Servais said rehabbing right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is recovering from a sore shoulder, is ticketed for another rehab start Monday at Tacoma. Iwakuma pitched four scoreless innings Wednesday at Hi-A Modesto in his first game action since May 3.

ON DECK: The Mariners and Rangers open a three-game weekend series at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time Friday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

Left-hander James Paxton (5-1 with a 2.25 ERA) will oppose Texas right-hander Tyson Ross, who is making his season debut. Ross made four rehab starts in his recovery from thoracic outlet surgery on his shoulder.

Ross hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since April 4, 2016 for San Diego. He signed a one-year deal last winter with the Rangers as a free agent.

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners