Published November 20, 2014
The Twins let an opportunity pass them by in the fifth inning. They didn't get a better chance later, either.
Minnesota had the bases loaded with one out, trailing 3-1, in the fifth. Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma struck out Pedro Florimon and Darin Mastroianni and the Mariners went on to a 5-3 win Friday night.
Iwakuma (4-3) allowed four hits and struck out six in his seven innings.
He started the game by retiring 12 consecutive batters. Justin Morneau's double to open the fifth inning snapped a streak of 42 consecutive batters retired by Mariners pitching, the longest such streak since 1974.
The last baserunner Seattle allowed before that was Tampa Bay's Jeff Keppinger when he doubled to lead off the ninth inning Tuesday.
Matt Carson's single to left scored Morneau, pulled Minnesota to within 3-1, and snapped Seattle's 21-inning scoreless streak. Tampa Bay scored two runs in the top of the first Tuesday, the last time the Mariners allowed opposition to cross the plate.
Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn (4-9) wasn't as effective. John Jaso and Miguel Olivo each homered off Blackburn, who struggled again. He lasted 5 ? innings, allowing five earned runs and 11 hits. He has lost five consecutive decisions and has not won since June 22.
"Typical outing," Blackburn said. "I make a couple mistakes -- give up home runs -- make good pitches, give up hits.
"Just don't know where to start."
Joe Mauer (8th) and Josh Willingham (31st) hit back-to-back homers off Stephen Pryor in the eighth for the Twins. Willingham has 47 home runs since July 29, 2011, passing Josh Hamilton for the most in baseball since then. Mauer was 2 for 4 Friday.
But, left-handed specialist Lucas Luetge came in to get Morneau out and Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen picked up his 17th save with a scoreless ninth.
"Offensively, we didn't do much," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a couple of home runs back-to-back which made it interesting, but like you saw, they've got a pretty good closer there."
A single up the middle by Dustin Ackley ended Blackburn's night in the sixth and put the Mariners up 5-1. Trayvon Robinson doubled to open the inning, and Eric Thames followed with a double down the right-field line to score Robinson.
Olivo hit his ninth home run of the season on the first pitch he saw from Blackburn in the second, continuing his personal dominance of the right-hander. Olivo is hitting .500 (12 for 24) with four home runs in his career against Blackburn.
Lefties are hitting .376 this year against Blackburn, and Jaso continued their success with a two-run homer in the first. Jaso's eighth homer of the year drove in Michael Saunders who had singled, snapping an 0-for-17 streak. Jaso reached base three times.
"You misfire and get the ball up and over the plate and they whack it," Gardenhire said.
Mauer hit his eighth homer of the year when he drove a slider to center field from the hard-throwing Pryor in the eighth inning. Willingham followed with his 31st homer run of the season when he smashed a 98-mph fastball from Pryor into the Seattle bullpen to cut the lead to 5-3. It was the third time this season the Twins have hit back-to-back home runs.
It wasn't enough.
"(Iwakuma) did a great job in the fifth inning," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "To leave the bases loaded out there and let them score only one run, that was a separator for us."
NOTES: The Mariners recalled left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned reliever Shawn Kelley to the Rainiers. Furbush had been on the 15-day disabled since July 18 with a strained left triceps. Wedge said Kelley was sent down because he had options remaining and the Mariners wanted to look at their young relievers. . Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe singled in the seventh inning to snap an 0-for-20 streak.