SEATTLE – Party too hard, and the hangover can be fierce the next day. Maybe it’s the same for home runs, too.
The Twins followed up Saturday’s half-dozen-homer intoxication with a teetotaling Sunday, and missed out on their first four-game sweep of Seattle since 1991 by falling to the Mariners 7-4.
The loss was the Twins’ first in a week, and their first game without a home run since May 5 in Yankee Stadium, ending a 13-game home run streak that was just three games short of the franchise record. It continued a peculiar pattern, too: The Twins have poured it on with six or more home runs three different times this season but have only one homer in the following game.
And if the loss hurt at all, well, the sting faded before the Twins reached the airport for their flight to Anaheim.
“We’ve set ourselves up for a winning road trip already,” said Kyle Gibson, who allowed four runs in six innings and took the loss. “Offense and defense and pitching did a good job the first three days, and we’ll keep rolling into L.A. I don’t think this is anything that’s going to be detrimental or get the mood down.”
No, but it was a good mood enhancer for the Mariners, who have fallen into last place in the AL West, embarrassing for a team that started 13-2. They finally rediscovered their winning formula — or maybe they just copied the Twins’. A trio of baseballs were sent sailing over the walls of T-Mobile Park, allowing Seattle to reclaim major league home run lead over the Twins 90-87.
Mitch Haniger crushed a first-pitch fastball from Gibson with a runner on in the fifth inning to tie the game, and Daniel Vogelbach made it back-to-back home runs with a mirror-image shot to right-center.
“If I could have one pitch back, that’s all I’d ask for,” Gibson said. “Even the Vogelbach pitch, it was away, just up a little bit. But the one pitch I’d want back is the Haniger ball.”
In the seventh, following two-out walks to Haniger and Vogelbach, Edwin Encarnacion made himself a pest yet again by rocketing a 2-2 pitch from Trevor May over the center field wall to put the game out of reach. Encarnacion, who went 9-for-15 in the series, now has 25 career home run against the Twins, third-most among active players, and 12 of them since 2017.
Minnesota, meanwhile, put together only one rally all day against Seattle lefthander Yusei Kikuchi, and the Twins actually had little to do with it. A pair of walks, a bunt picked up and thrown into the outfield, and a ground ball booted by the shortstop turned into three generous runs for the Twins, briefly giving them a lead that they assumed their supersonic offense would eventually widen.
Didn’t happen. C.J. Cron struck out with the bases loaded to end the third inning, and besides the gift-wrapped rally the Mariners bestowed upon them in the fifth, the Twins didn’t advance a runner as far as second base until the ninth inning. Jorge Polanco drove home Ehire Adrianza in the final frame with a two-out single to close the gap, but Jonathan Schoop flew out to right-center to end the game.
“This was still a good, positive series for us,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You look up and down our lineup, you look at a bunch of our arms, and you can say this was quality work that we put in, and we’ll move on to Anaheim.”