Ariel Miranda gives up five runs in the first inning and the Mariners leave Minnesota with only a split of the four-game series after Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Twins.
MINNEAPOLIS — Ariel Miranda’s understanding of the English language has progressed at a rapid rate, to the point where the Cuban native will sometimes respond in his second language.
So after trying to explain all that went wrong in his clunker of a start in the Mariners’ 6-2 loss to the Twins on Thursday afternoon, it was mentioned to him that it seemed to be “just one of those days.”
Miranda nodded immediately, forced a smile and replied in English, “Yes, it was just one of those days.”
Mariners @ Texas, 5:05 p.m., ROOT Sports
Miranda was rocked for five runs in the first inning and Seattle’s potent offense mustered little against talented Twins pitching prospect Jose Berrios in a frustrating end to the four-game series. Seattle fell to 33-35 on the season.
“Ariel wasn’t really sharp coming out of the chute,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Coming into the game, Miranda had allowed two runs or less in his last seven starts. Two batters into the game, he’d already allowed two runs.
“I didn’t have any command of my pitches,” Miranda said through interpreter Nasusel Cabrera.
The problems started when Mitch Haniger misplayed a deep fly ball to right field for a leadoff double for Brian Dozier. Off the bat, Haniger had a read on the ball and took a quick peek to check where he was in relation to the wall. Then he realized the ball was going to be over his head.
“My original read was that it would be right over my shoulder,” Haniger said. “It must have got up in the jet stream because I didn’t expect it to go that far. On the field, we were talking as an outfield about how the wind feels like it was blowing in. And after that play, I’m looking up and still feeling wind blowing in, but on the top row of the stadium the flags were blowing out.”
The next batter, Eduardo Escobar, continued his torture of Seattle pitching, golfing a low split-finger fastball over the wall in left field for a two-run blast. For the series, he had 10 hits in 15 at-bats with the two homers.
“He hit a good pitch,” Miranda said.
After walking Miguel Sano, Miranda retired the next two batters and looked like he might escape with minimal damage.
But Jorge Polanco dropped down a perfect bunt single and one-time Mariner Chris Gimenez smashed a three-run homer to left to make it 5-0. Miranda had got up 0-2 in the count, but Gimenez battled back to get the count to 3-2 and then hammered a fastball up in the zone.
“The big blow was the Gimenez homer,” Servais said. “You keep it at 2-0 and it’s a different game.”
When Miranda finally retired Byron Buxton two batters later, all nine Twins batters had come to the plate, five runs had been scored on five hits and he’d thrown 34 pitches. It was a suboptimal beginning to his start.
“The thing with Ariel is that he has to pitch off his fastball,” Servais said. “His fastball has some life up in the zone, and he needs to stick with it. Today, he kind of got away from it. He started going to a lot of off-speed stuff early and he’s got to keep throwing the fastball until he gets a feel for it. Because that is his pitch and it sets up everything else.”
Miranda had his reasons for eschewing his best pitch.
“I knew I didn’t have it — the velocity and command weren’t there,” he said.
Miranda somehow worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the second without allowing any runs but served up a solo homer to Gimenez in the third. For the first time since May 9, where he gave up eight runs in 31/3 innings against the Phillies, Miranda wasn’t able to give his team at least five full innings. He exited after four, having allowed the six runs on 10 hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
The massive amount of early run support allowed the 23-year-old Berrios to pitch without fear, using his late-moving fastball and nasty breaking ball to carve up Seattle hitters.
He worked a season-high eight innings, giving up two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts to improve to 6-1 and lower his ERA to 2.74 on the season.
“He pitched a very good ballgame,” Servais said. “We knew going in that Berrios had very good stuff — electric fastball, pretty good breaking ball. We had some chances to kind of get close. But we could never mount a big rally against him. Give him credit — we’ve been swinging the bats very well and he shut us down.”
Berrios allowed RBI singles to Taylor Motter in the third inning and Robinson Cano in the sixth. But he was never in any real danger for a big inning. In the seventh, Kyle Seager led off with a double to center. But Berrios struck out Danny Valenica and got soft fly outs from Jarrod Dyson and Carlos Ruiz to end the threat.
The bright spot for the Mariners was the relief work of Chase De Jong, who gave Seattle four shutout innings.