MINNEAPOLIS — For the second straight day, the last-place Minnesota Twins were hanging in against a team vying for the American League wild card.
Like the early loss in Thursday’s doubleheader to the Detroit Tigers — and much of the season — Minnesota’s bullpen fell apart late.
Robinson Cano had four hits and two RBIs. Nelson Cruz added a towering two-run homer among his four RBIs, and the struggling Seattle Mariners’ offense got back on track in a 10-1 victory over the Twins on Friday night.
“Some bloops, some missed plays, some well-hit balls, and offensively we had nothing going against (James) Paxton,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “We had a couple scratch singles, but we didn’t have much going. (Miguel) Sano got the triple. We got on the board, but not a particularly good game overall.”
Kyle Gibson (6-10) gave up two runs, five hits and four walks for the Twins, which lost their seventh straight and fell to 99 losses, matching the 99 in 2011.
“It’s tough to be too satisfied with a game where you only went five innings, threw a hundred pitches and your team loses 10-1,” Gibson said. “I think there’s some positives but it’s hard to focus on those at that time.”
Gibson said he felt he had better command, but the four walks were one off a season-high and the most he’s had in his past six starts.
“He was around the zone for the most part,” Molitor said. “Checking in with our catcher, he said they’re balls. They’re close, but they’re balls. So sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t but you’ve got to be able to pitch around those things.”
Paxton (5-7) struck out nine and allowed one run and five hits. The only blemish on his night was Sano leading off the seventh with a triple off the wall in right field and scoring on Kennys Vargas’ single.
Cano and Mike Zunino had RBI bloop singles in the third and fourth, respectively, off Gibson before Seattle scored six runs in the seventh against three Minnesota relievers.
“The bullpen had trouble containing again,” Molitor said.
The game was delayed by 35 minutes due to rain, marking the 14th delay or postponement in Minnesota this season.
Twins CF Byron Buxton displayed his athleticism when he made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Cruz of at least extra bases in the third. Video replay showed the ball likely would have hit near the top of the wall.
But Cruz hit his 38th homer in the eighth, an estimated 455 feet, hitting off the stone facing above the batter’s eye in center field.
“I was grateful the air was a little heavy,” Molitor said. “Didn’t seem to stop the second one. But when he hit it, I thought it was out of the park. And you know, as (Buxton) does, he ran a good route and got back there and gave him a chance to make the catch without the wall hitting the ball out of his glove.”
Buxton added an infield single for Minnesota’s first hit when his grounder was stopped by a diving Adam Lind at first base. But Buxton beat Paxton to the base for a hit.
Twins: RF Max Kepler was out of the lineup but was cleared to play after leaving Thursday’s doubleheader with a mild neck strain from hitting the wall awkwardly. … 1B Joe Mauer was out of the lineup for the third straight game as he deals with sore quadriceps. He hasn’t started since Sept. 17.
Seattle LHP Ariel Miranda (5-1, 3.88 ERA) hopes to keep his surprising run going on Saturday. Minnesota will send RHP Tyler Duffey (8-11, 6.39) to the mound. Miranda has gone 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last four starts with 20 strikeouts in 25 innings. Duffey has allowed at least five earned runs in three of his last four outings.