Mariners rally for wild 8-7 win over Twins
SEATTLE (AP)—Even at 36, there’s still a little bit left in the aging legs of Raul Ibanez.
There’s no doubt there’s something left in his bat, too, especially after the last three games.
Ibanez homered and drove in five more runs Tuesday, capping his night by racing around from first to score the go-ahead run in the Seattle Mariners’ 8-7 win over Minnesota that dropped the Twins out of first in the AL Central.
Seattle took the lead on Jose Lopez’s two-out, two-run double off closer Joe Nathan in the eighth. Ibanez, who has a club record-tying 14 RBIs in the last three games, slid across home with the tiebreaking tally.
“It’s working out and I’ll just keep trying to do whatever I can to help out the club,” said Ibanez, whose surge at the plate should help his case as a free agent this offseason.
Minnesota fell one game back of the Chicago White Sox, who beat Detroit 10-8 in 14 innings.
Once again, the Twins bullpen crumbled in the late innings, continuing their trend of being great at home and awful on the road. There were plenty of problems before Nathan entered with one out in the eighth, but Minnesota’s lockdown closer giving up the winning hit was still a surprise.
“I threw it for a strike and he was able to put enough on it and find a spot out there,” Nathan said.
Seattle’s rally came after the Twins put together a four-run eighth of their own to take a 7-6 lead, capped by Mike Lamb’s two-run double off closer J.J. Putz. Minutes later, Nathan found himself in the same situation as Putz, trying to protect a lead his bullpen mates started to let slip.
“I’m sure every closer would rather go out in the ninth, but we’re down here in August and we’re in the middle of a race and it’s whatever it takes,” Nathan said.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire went to Nathan, who got a lineout from Adrian Beltre before going 3-2 on Lopez. Nathan threw a slider right where he wanted—which is also where Lopez was looking.
Suzuki easily scored on the liner to left-center and Ibanez frantically raced around from first ahead of Brendan Harris’ relay throw to the plate. It was Nathan’s third blown save of the season, and first since June 14.
Putz (4-4) struck out the first two batters of the ninth, before walking Justin Morneau. Jason Kubel, who homered twice, then doubled into the left-field corner, but Morneau was held at third as Ibanez quickly raced over to field the ball. Delmon Young was intentionally walked, and pinch-hitter Mike Redmond flied out to finish off the back-and-forth night.
“We’re not scrapping for first place but I think playing those type of games … it’s intense,” Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said.
Ibanez’s winning run capped another huge night for the left fielder, who was almost traded to Toronto at last week’s trade deadline. Ibanez hit a three-run homer in the third and a two-run single in the sixth. His 14 RBIs in his last three games ties the franchise mark also held by Ken Griffey Jr.
Ibanez had six RBIs in Seattle’s 10-run seventh inning on Monday night.
“He won’t come up with first base not occupied. If he ever did that we’d just walk him. There’s your answer,” Gardenhire joked. “He’s hotter than a match. It seems like if we make a good pitch on him, he hits it hard. We make a bad pitch, he hits it hard.”
Minnesota’s rally in the top of the eighth started with Morneau’s one-out double over the glove of a leaping Suzuki in right. Kubel followed with a two-run drive off reliever Cesar Jimenez that cut it to 6-5.
Jimenez was lifted for Roy Corcoran, who got the second out of the inning before allowing consecutive singles to Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris. Riggleman then went to Putz, who regained his spot as the full-time closer on Tuesday when the Mariners sent Brandon Morrow to Triple-A to begin his conversion to being a starter.
Ahead in the count 2-0, Lamb lined Putz’s pitch off the wall in right-center. It was just his second hit this season as a pinch hitter.
“It’s that time of the year. The road is going to be hard, we know that. We want to win games on the road,” Gardenhire said. “That was a good effort out there tonight.”
Kubel also hit a solo homer off starter R.A. Dickey in the sixth.
Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games. … Injured Twins OF Michael Cuddyer was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, but the game was postponed. … The Mariners designated two sections of Safeco Field as “Peanut Free Zones” for Tuesday’s game. The move was made for children and adults who have peanut allergies.