It’s a sign of progress for the Mariners that on a night when their defense lets them down — three errors, plus a couple of other balls that got through, plus some double-plays not turned — they still blitzed the Twins, 8-2. In fact, they were one strike not called away from a shutout before Oliver Perez gave up a couple of runs in the ninth.
Robby Thompson, who doubles as infield coach as well as acting manager, was clearly not happy with the defense. Kyle Seager booted two, and Nick Franklin had the other error. Asked to evaluate Hisashi Iwakuma, Thompson got it off his chest immediately.
“Outstanding. Coming from an infield guy, I wasn’t too pleased with our infield play. Obviously, you guys are watching the same game. I’m a little bit disappointed with that. But he battled and he got himself out of it. A lot of times you have infielders or outfielders pick up the pitchers; well, he definitely picked up our infield tonight. He threw more pitches than he should have, but he battled and bore down and got himself out of a couple of jams we put him into.
“I think we were a little bit lackadaisical tonight in the infield. When you get situations where there’s three ground balls for double plays, and Iwakuma gets them, they should be turned. I’m not frustrated; I think they need to be turned. They know that, I’ve already talked to them about it, but it is the game. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes we don’t have an answer for it. We’ll tighten that up tomorrow.”
Besides the defense, about the only unsettling note for the Mariners came when catcher Mike Zunino had to leave the game after the fourth inning. He was taken out for precautionary reasons after taking a foul ball off his left wrist. X-rays were negative, and Zunino will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Zunino said he had been hit in the same spot a couple days earlier.
“I’ve taken balls off me everywhere in the last couple days,’’ he said. “But this one sort of got me in the same spot. And sort of reaggravated it a little bit. Not too bad. I’m feeling better already. We’ll just take it day by day.”
I’d expect Henry Blanco to start on Friday, but the M’s hope Zunino will be back soon. He had an RBI single and has been swinging a hot bat for over a week, just like Dustin Ackley, who had three hits. Nick Franklin had the big blow, a three-run homer.
Twins starter Kevin Correia, the victim of the Mariners’ six-run second inning, had some interesting comments about the Mariners’ hitters.
“I’m still tying to figure out some of these guys,” he said. “I think they’ve gotten a lot better, too. There’ s a lot of young hitters on this team. From facing them earlier in the year to now, you can tell. Especially now, they’re hot right now, you can see. They’re aggressive. And they’re not missing pitches. It’s tough to go against some pretty good young hitters.
“I looked at the film (of his last start against Seattle). Jason Bay the first game hit two home runs off me and he wasn’t in the lineup. Seager was the other guy I remember hit me well. First inning he hit a home run off me. He stays down on pitches well. That’s why I threw a good curve ball to him, but it’s not necessarily a great pitch because he’s good at hitting down-and-away pitches. That’s what he did before. I thought I had a good game plan. I felt good coming in. They just kind of jumped on me and I couldn’t get them off me.”
If you can get the opposing starter to say that, it’s been a pretty good day, regardless of some defensive lapses.