Mariners Beat Themselves, Twins Win 4-2

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 5: Kyle Gibson /

Wednesday in San Francisco was absolutely abysmal. Thursday in the blistering Minnesota cold wasn’t any better.

There are good omens and there are bad omens. Having your ace pitcher attacked by an eagle during the National Anthem seems like the latter. But James Paxton, being the friendly Canadian that he is, calmly allowed his new feathered friend to perch on his right shoulder:

In that moment, alike Jack Black in Nacho Libre, James Paxton was gifted eagle powers. But those powers were short-lived.

After walking the tightrope all day long versus a formidable Twins lineup, Paxton finally cracked in the sixth inning. Once again struggling to finish hitters off, Paxton’s pitch count skyrocketed and finally caught up to him when Miguel Sano took him deep on a two-run shot to tie the game.

Paxton exited with a no decision, a fate unearned. While, yes, he did struggle, he battled all day and came up with a few clutch outs.

The Mariners struggles today fall on the shoulders of their offense. After opening the game with two singles from Dee Gordon and Jean Segura, they were only able to scrape two runs out of the first inning.

Gordon scored on an errant throw by Sano on a Mitch Haniger groundball. Then Daniel Vogelbach ripped an RBI single up the middle to score Segura.

From that point forward, the Mariners went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position prior to Paxton’s exit. The Mariners, essentially, had multiple opportunities to notch five or six runs. But they couldn’t, and Paxton’s gutsy performance ultimately suffered.

The offensive woes continued afterwards. In the seventh, the Mariners added another 0-for-3 to their RISP count. After Segura and Cano set up as runners on the corners, Haniger, Kyle Seager, and Vogelbach were unable to drive them in.

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It’s been a rough 24 hours for the Mariners offense. In that period of time, the Mariners have had 18 hits and only three runs to show for it.

Reliever Dan Altavilla was looking solid in his third appearance of the year. The hard-throwing righty had struck out three hitters in one-and-one-third innings of work, but ended up being the victim of the Twins’ killing blow: a solo home run by catcher Mitch Garver.

That would be all the Twins needed to finish the M’s off with how poorly the offense had performed. Addison Reed and former Mariner closer Fernando Rodney made quick work of the slumping M’s.

This team is simply too talented to perform like this offensively, even with the major injuries they have sustained. Having runners on the corners with no one out multiple times and not driving them in is a problem.

These weren’t situations in which the bottom of the lineup was tasked to get the job done. No, this was your top-tier swingers choking consistently throughout the game.

The inning that perfectly exhibits this was the second. Ichiro and David Freitas led the inning off with a pair of singles, bringing the top of the order up with no one out. Gordon, Segura, and Cano came up empty-handed with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out.

Instances like this cannot continue, especially against mediocre pitchers like Kyle Gibson. If it does, you’ll find yourselves four games under .500 when you get back to Seattle.

The Mariners get a much-needed day off tomorrow to regroup. Hopefully when they return to Target Field on Saturday, their issues will be resolved and we’ll see more of what the M’s had to offer in the first four games of the year.

Next: Dee Goes Griffey, Mariners win 5-4

On Saturday, Mike Leake (1-0, 2.57 ERA) gets the nod against Jose Berrios (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Berrios silenced the Baltimore Orioles with a complete game shutout on Easter, so things don’t get any easier for the Mariners bats. ROOT Sports will have the call at 11:10 AM PT.