Alexi Casilla’s two-run single capped Minnesota’s three-run rally with two outs in the ninth and the Twins beat the Mariners 6-5 on Tuesday night.
Brought in to protect a 5-3 lead, Morrow (0-1) retired his first two batters before walking the bases loaded. Miguel Batista relieved and Denard Span chopped an RBI infield single to third that made it 5-4. Casilla lined the next pitch from Batista up the middle, scoring Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher.
“It felt like we beat the White Sox,” Span said. “I was expecting champagne to be in the air when I got in the clubhouse, but it was only the first one of the season.”
Morrow stood at his locker after the game and tried his best to explain how the wheels came off so fast with two outs in the ninth.
“I was trying as hard as I could to throw it where I wanted it, but the ball just wasn’t getting there,” he said. “Hopefully, I can come back tomorrow and it won’t happen again.”
With one out and runners on first and third in the fifth, Twins shortstop Nick Punto fielded Jose Lopez’s grounder deep in the hole and turned a nifty 6-4-3 double play. The slick-fielding play appeared to give the Twins some momentum.
“I thought it turned around when Nicky got that double-play ball. It got us fired up,” Buscher said.
Erik Bedard, making his first start for Seattle since July 4, allowed three runs over five innings and struck out eight. Bedard missed the second half of last season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Bedard watched the ninth-inning meltdown on television in the clubhouse and tried his best to find some humor in the loss.
“Yeah, it seemed a little long there in the end,” he said with a smirk. “But luckily we still got 160 left.”
Bedard was cruising until running into a jam in the fifth. With runners on second and third, he appeared to strike out Cuddyer on a 2-2 fastball that was called high by umpire Chuck Meriwether. After a foul ball, Cuddyer lined the next pitch into center, cutting the lead to 4-3.
Even Cuddyer felt lucky after the at-bat.
“I thought I was struck out,” he said.
Mariners relievers had 31 blown saves last season, a team record. The bullpen retired 11 in a row before Morrow ran into control problems in the ninth.
Seattle pitchers struck out 12 before Minnesota’s offense awakened for the first time this season.
Despite Morrow’s struggles, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu plans to stick with him.
“It’s not easy. It’s a tough situation for him because we put him out there without a lot of innings in spring training,” Wakamatsu said. “I told him when I took him out that he’ll be back out there.”
Nick Blackburn, who had 11 wins as a Twins rookie last season, labored through five innings. He allowed four runs and eight hits.
Minnesota played without catcher Mike Redmond, nursing a strained groin. Redmond hopes to play through the injury and hold down the catching duties until All-Star Joe Mauer returns from an injured back.
Seattle is without its own All-Star—Ichiro Suzuki is on the disabled list with a bleeding ulcer.
Former heavyweight boxer Scott LeDoux, now 60 and battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, threw out the first pitch. LeDoux fought Larry Holmes, Ken Norton and George Foreman during a career that spanned the late 1970s and early ’80s. … Wakamatsu was relieved when pitcher Felix Hernandez entered the clubhouse before the game and appeared to be healthy. Hernandez turned his right ankle twice during Monday’s win over the Twins. Wakamatsu said there was slight swelling but Hernandez should be fine. … Suzuki’s blood tests should be in soon and the Mariners will determine the next step after seeing the results. … Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek was back home after missing Monday’s opener and spending the night in a hospital after feeling groggy.