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May 17, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Twins 4, Mariners 3 — another hit, another run short

Box score and updated stats05.17.14 Box Score

Remember the Mariners’ 7-2 road trip and them being two games over .500? The feel-good memories might be disappearing fast amid a sea of stranded base runners and missed opportunities.

The Mariners lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night, falling 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. They’ve now dropped seven of their last 11 games and are 20-22 on the season. The last time Seattle lost four in a row was part of the brutal eight-game losing streak in mid April.

While a protracted losing streak doesn’t seem likely, Seattle’s failures to hit with runners in scoring position could extend the streak of defeats if not corrected.

“We’ll figure it out,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s a little tough right now. Winning games at this level is tough. One thing here or one thing there will cause you to lose. We’ll figure this offense out and we’ll be okay.”

The Mariners were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the loss and have just one hit in their last 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

“We just need to get that big hit,” McClendon said. “In the last three or four games, it’s that one hit that puts us over the top.”

The players believe they are close to breaking through. The sentiment is they are just a run short or a key hit away from changing everything.

“I feel like everyone is on the verge of contributing how we should be contributing,” said outfielder James Jones. “All we can do is keep grinding and stay confident out there.”

In some cases it doesn’t even need to be a hit to make a difference. Down 4-2 going into the seventh inning, Seattle had a prime opportunity to add a run against the Twins’ bullpen. With runners on the corners and one out, McClendon called on Stefen Romero to pinch hit for Brad Miller against lefty Brian Duensing. It was a logical move. And even though Smoak is no track star, a deep fly ball and  or any ball that touches the outfield grass probably scores him.  Instead, Romero bounced a ball back to the mound for a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Of course, an inning later, Michael Saunders belted his second homer of the season – a solo shot off Jared Burton. Instead of it being a game-tying homer, it only trimmed the lead to 4-3.

Corey Hart followed Saunders’ homer with a two-out double to right-center. But he was stranded there as Kyle Seager struck out to end the inning. Seager is has three hits in his last 23 at-bats with eight strikeouts.

Starter Roenis Elias (3-3) took the loss, pitching seven innings and giving up four runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

“I thought he threw exceptionally well,” McClendon said. “His stuff was good. He didn’t have many stressful innings tonight.”

Of the four Twins’ runs, Brian Dozier had a part in all of them. He scored in the first inning and then hit a three-run homer off Elias.

“The pitch was down,” Zunino said. “It was a good curveball. I thought it was a really good pitch.”

The three-run homer was his 11th of the season and second of the series. In nine career games against the Mariners, Dozier has hit four homers.

“One night you throw a ball that you felt like was neck level and he hits it out ,” Zunino said. “And the next night you throw one down and he was able to drop the bat head and elevate it. He’s seeing the ball well.”

The Mariners did little against Samuel Deduno, who gave up the two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

“He had a lot of movement on his fastball and he was locating it,” Jones said. “He was coming in on the lefties and his cutter had a lot of movement.”

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