MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Lew Ford found the problem with his swing watching video behind the Twins’ dugout, and got immediate results from a small change in his approach.
The Twins completed their second three-game sweep of the season. The other was April 11-13 against Oakland at the Metrodome. The Mariners have been swept four times this year.
Ford’s homer, a 414-foot drive to right-center, was his second of the season and first since April 21. It came on a 1-2 pitch from Guardado (0-3), who played for the Twins for 11 seasons before signing with the Mariners in 2003.
“It was a good way to end it,” said Ford, mired in a 3-for-19 slump before the homer. “I was trying to make contact and got a good one to hit. I’ve just not been hitting as well as I’d like. When something like this happens, it really boosts your confidence.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire suggested to Ford that he watch video of his prior at-bats on a monitor behind the dugout before going up to the plate in the 10th.
“I’ve watched him long enough to know when he’s falling down—he’s collapsing on his right knee,” Gardenhire said. “I just told him to stay back and drive the ball.”
Said Ford: “He gave me a couple of tips there. I guess they did pay off.”
Guardado, who was demoted to part-time closer earlier this season, had been pitching well of late, not allowing a run in his past seven innings. Afterward, he lit into himself and his team, which has lost five straight.
Guardado said it’s embarrassing “not just for me, but the entire team. I think today we should have killed those guys, even with their best pitcher going.
“This three-game series absolutely was not good baseball.”
Minnesota’s Joe Nathan (3-0) got out of a jam in the 10th to earn the victory.
The Mariners squandered their chances in the late innings to go ahead.
In the 10th, Nathan allowed back-to-back singles to Suzuki and Lopez to start the inning.
Nathan was then helped by two outstanding plays in the outfield. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer made a nice catch on a drive by Raul Ibanez, and Suzuki failed to tag and advance to third because he was too far off second. Center fielder Torii Hunter then leaped against the fence to snag a drive by Richie Sexson. Nathan retired Adrian Beltre on a flyball to end the threat.
“Torii’s catch?” Nathan said. “That was routine for him.”
The Mariners had another golden chance to grab the lead in the seventh.
Suzuki hit a one-out triple. With Lopez at the plate, Seattle tried a suicide squeeze. Suzuki broke toward home with the pitch, but Lopez popped it up to pitcher Johan Santana, who caught the ball and threw it to third baseman Luis Rodriguez for a double play.
“The pitch was by my hat. It was too high,” Lopez said. “But Ichiro was coming to the plate, so what can I do?”
After Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly to put the Mariners up 3-2 in the fifth, the Twins tied it in the sixth. Mauer led off the inning with a ground-rule double off starter Joel Pineiro. Mauer moved to third on Hunter’s groundout and scored on Mike Redmond’s sacrifice fly.
Pineiro, who had a 10.93 ERA in losing his past three starts coming in, gave up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“I had pretty good location on my pitches,” Pineiro said. “I kept the ball down. The only big mistake I made was the homer to Morneau.”
Santana, who had won four of his last five starts, allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. He had five strikeouts to improve his AL-leading total to 80.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us seven solid innings,” Gardenhire said.
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove rested Carl Everett because “his legs were a little weary” and Hargrove didn’t want the DH to play another game on the Metrodome’s artificial turf. … Mauer was in the lineup as a DH for the third time this season. … Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire sat 3B Tony Batista, who has batted just .150 (3-for-20) against Pineiro.