Mariners Insider Blog

Three takeaways: Lack of speed torpedoes Miranda and the Mariners

Ariel Miranda watched Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar circle the bases after hitting a two-run homer Thursday in the first inning.
Ariel Miranda watched Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar circle the bases after hitting a two-run homer Thursday in the first inning. AP

It ended quickly, anyway.

Minnesota spanked Ariel Miranda for five runs in the first inning Thursday and rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Mariners, who settled for a split in their four-game series at Target Field.

Miranda (6-3) had not allowed more than two runs in any of his six previous starts before getting rocked by the Twins, who got homers from Eduardo Escobar and Chris Gimenez in their five-run first.

Gimenez hit another homer in the third inning. That was also against Miranda, who gave up a career-high 10 hits in just four innings and saw his ERA spike from 3.67 to 4.17.

Problems started immediately when a tricky wind in right field blew Brian Dozier’s leadoff fly ball away from Mitch Haniger for something of a gift double.

Escobar followed with a homer. A few batters later, Gimenez hit his first homer, a three-run shot, and at that point, it was pretty much school’s out.

The postgame discussion centered on Miranda’s decision to dial back usage of his fastball. He said he did so because he knew he lacked his usual velocity, while manager Scott Servais said Miranda needed to keep throwing it.

"He has to pitch off his fastball," Servais insisted. "His fastball has some life up in the zone, and he’s got to stick with it…It sets up everything else."

The first-inning homers by Escobar and Gimenez were on changeups.

The loss dropped the Mariners to 33-35 as they headed to Texas for a three-game weekend series.

Three takeaways from Thursday’s loss:

***Overmatched by Berrios: The Twins might have something in right-hander Jose Berrios, who showed a plus fastball and a good breaking ball in shutting down the Mariners, who rang up 27 runs and 45 hits in the first three games.

Berrios is now 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA in seven starts since his mid-May promotion from Triple-A Rochester, where he was 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in six starts.

A year ago in 14 starts as a rookie, Berrios often had trouble trouble throwing strikes — something that was not a problem in his minor-league career. He’s throwing strikes this year. He walked just one batter Thursday in eight innings.

***Gamel keeps hitting: Left fielder Ben Gamel went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .345, which would lead the American League if he had sufficient plate appearances to qualify for inclusion among the leaders.

That’s not far off. Players need 3.1 plate appearances per game played by their club to qualify. Right now, Gamel is about 16 plate appearances shy.

***De Jong’s reward: Rookie right-hander Chase De Jong did exactly what the Mariners wanted him to do in pitching four shutout innings after replacing Miranda. Even so, his likely reward is a ticket back to Triple-A Tacoma.

It’s a familiar theme as the Mariners keep shuttling long relievers to and from the Rainiers. De Jong threw 54 pitches, which means he’s unavailable for three or four days. The Mariners will want a fresh arm. De Jong can recover in Tacoma.

Odds are, he’ll be back.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners