Giving the Seattle Mariners a two-base head start eventually caught up to the Twins.
Jake Odorizzi started three of the six innings he pitched Monday by giving up a double, yet he never surrendered a run. But when Trevor Hildenberger did the same in the eighth inning, the Mariners finally cashed in their opportunity — with the help of some shaky Twins defense.
Logan Morrison fielded a bunt and threw the ball into right field, enabling the game’s lone run to score, and the Twins handed the Mariners a thoughtful gift for stopping by Target Field on their way home: a 1-0 victory.
“Obviously, it’s a routine play I’ve got to make, but I didn’t make it,” said Morrison, who hadn’t committed an error in any of his previous 11 starts at first base. “I don’t have an excuse. I just threw it away.”
The play was magnified by the final score, the Twins’ first 1-0 loss since a 10-inning defeat at Cleveland Aug. 29, 2016. “But it’s certainly not why we lost the game,” manager Paul Molitor said. “The story for me was, we just couldn’t figure out a way to barrel up any balls off [Seattle starter Wade] LeBlanc.”
Yes, the game, originally scheduled for April 8 but postponed because temperatures never rose above 30 degrees that day, featured offenses that appeared just as frozen on a soggy 70-degree night — Monday’s start was delayed 1 hour, 42 minutes by rain. A day after Shohei Ohtani’s high-90s fastball held the Twins to one run in Anaheim, LeBlanc’s high-80s fastball was even tougher.
The journeyman lefthander retired 18 of the 21 hitters he faced in six innings, gave up harmless singles to the other three, and walked nobody. The weak contact produced by the Twins resulted in one popup after another; they didn’t even hit a ground ball until the fourth inning. Coming off a 10-game road trip, the Twins simply looked tired.
“He’s [got] a sneaky 88 if there ever is one. He cuts the ball, throws changeups to lefties,” Morrison said. “There were a lot of pitches that stayed on the corners pretty well.”
Relievers James Pazos, Nick Vincent and Edwin Diaz finished off the Twins, with only one hiccup: Mitch Garver doubled off Pazos with one out in the seventh inning. But Morrison grounded out and Eddie Rosario, who entered the game after Robbie Grossman was ejected, popped up, ending the brief “threat.”
Odorizzi’s night wasn’t quite so quiet, but it ultimately was just as effective. The righthander gave up four hits, and a walk and hit a batter over six innings, while striking out seven. But he had to work twice as hard as LeBlanc, because while the Mariners lefty retired the first hitter he faced in all six innings, Odorizzi kept giving up leadoff doubles — to Ben Gamel in the third inning, Ryon Healy in the fifth and Jean Segura in the sixth.
Still, Odorizzi pitched around all of them, posting the fourth qualify start of his nine-game Twins career, and his first scoreless outing since Opening Day — when he also threw six shutout innings in a Twins loss.
“I felt like I had pretty good stuff, got some strikeouts when I really needed them,” he said. “I had a lot of great defensive plays behind me.”
Hildenberger wasn’t so lucky. Dee Brown whistled his first pitch off the left-field wall. Two pitches later, Segura bunted in front of the plate, and Morrison came charging in to field it. After briefly looking at third, he turned to first — and threw well wide of Brian Dozier. The speedy Gordon trotted home.
“They were showing [bunt] early, so I’m trying to get the out at third. Dee’s obviously really fast, I didn’t have a chance there,” Morrison said. “Garver said [first base], I went to reset my feet and just threw it away. It was me looking at [Dozier] still running to the bag, vs. just throwing it to the bag.”