MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Miguel Sano showed why he’s a touted prospect as well as a rookie in need of consistency.
Sano hit his fourth homer of the season - for the only hit against Seattle’s Taijuan Walker - and then had mixed results in the field in the Minnesota Twins’ 6-1 loss to the Mariners on Friday night.
Getting just his third start at third base, Sano made a diving play to his right and came up with a strong throw from foul territory to get Franklin Guitierrez at first to end the third inning.
“I did that play a lot in Double-A this year,” Sano said.
In the fourth, Austin Jackson hit a hooking liner at Sano that bounced off his glove for a single. Jesus Montero followed with a bouncer down the line that Sano couldn’t knock down, resulting in a run-scoring double and a 2-0 Mariners lead.
Neither play was routine, but if Sano manages to hold onto the liner and knock down the chopper, things may have gone differently for the Twins.
“One outstanding play,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “The hooking line drive, I don’t know what the exit speed was. It was a tough catch and he couldn’t hold onto it. On the chopper, it had a little reverse spin and came back over the base. When you try to charge a top-spin ball and don’t get the short hop, it’s going to be a tough play to come up with cleanly.”
Jackson scored on Brad Miller’s second sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 and the Twins were on their way to their fourth loss in five games.
Walker (8-7) hadn’t allowed a hit when Sano, playing in his 22nd game, came up with two outs in the fourth and lined a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall.
For a moment, the two defensive plays in the top of the inning were forgotten.
“The first at-bat he threw me out away,” Sano said. “The second at-bat I thought he’d probably come with a change-up inside and I was ready for that pitch.”
Without Sano, the Twins might have been no-hit by Walker, who had allowed 19 runs in his previous four starts. He tied a career best with 11 strikeouts and walked one.
Minnesota had just two other baserunners - Joe Mauer on a walk in the first and Torii Hunter reaching via error on Miller at shortstop in the seventh. It was the 29th time in club history the Twins have been one-hit and the first time since May 24, 2013, at Detroit.
Nelson Cruz had a season-high four hits and hit his 27th homer. Montero added a home run in his return to the majors off of Tommy Milone (5-3) to make it 4-1 in the sixth.
Milone allowed four runs on 11 hits in six innings. He has just one win in his last six starts after beginning the season 5-1.
“Regardless of how our offense does I have to do my job and not give up any runs,” Milone said. “It just didn’t happen today.”
TWINS GET BULLPEN HELP
Before the game, the Twins traded two pitching prospects for Tampa Bay reliever Kevin Jepsen. In 46 appearances with the Rays, Jepsen went 2-5 with a 2.81 ERA.
Minnesota sent right-handers Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia to Tampa Bay. Minor league left-hander Caleb Thielbar was designated for assignment to make room for Jepsen on the 40-man roster.
After the game, the Twins sent SS Danny Santana to Triple-A Rochester and SS Jorge Polanco to Double-A Chattanooga. Trevor Plouffe will be reinstated from paternity leave and Jepsen will join the team on Saturday.
Molitor wasn’t sure if regular shortstop duties will go to Eduardo Escobar or Eduardo Nunez.
Byron Buxton (left thumb sprain) took another round of batting practice before the game but general manager Terry Ryan said the team hasn’t made any decision on when Buxton will travel to Florida to continue his rehab.
Mariners: LHP Mike Montgomery (4-4, 3.20 ERA) will try to get back on the winning side after going 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA in his last four starts.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (8-8, 3.48) is also trying to turn his luck. He allowed six runs in each of his last two starts.
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