We share our observations from what proved to be a surprising, but well-earned series win for the Mariners against the Twins in Minnesota.
Following a respectable 3-3 record in the opening home stand of the 2021 season, the Mariners set out on their first road trip of the year. First up was a three-game set in Minnesota.
Not much was anticipated, facing a strong Twins team which didn’t lose much at home last season. (A 24-7 record at Target Field.) The script was duly followed in the first game, as the Twins won 10-2.
However, the Mariners refused to give up, as they came back to win the second game 4-3 in 10 innings. They then stunned the Twins to take the finale 8-6 and clinch the series.
There were plenty of talking points to come out of the three games. Here are four takeaways from the series, together with some other notes:
4) Another unexpected comeback
When you’re a ball club which hasn’t been to the postseason since 2001, you need to do whatever you can to win over the fans and give them hope. One of the best ways to do this, is to show you are willing to always work hard and never give up.
This has already been proved this season, with the Mariners twice coming back from big deficits for unlikely wins. (Opening night versus the San Francisco Giants and the second game against the Chicago White Sox.) Now you can add Sunday’s game in Minnesota to the list.
The Mariners found themselves trailing 6-0 after five innings. Starting pitcher Chris Flexen was pulled following a rough outing, and the offense had done little to help out.
Kyle Seager got things started in the sixth with a solo home run — his first of the season — but still didn’t give much reason for any excitement. (Seager was in the middle of an amazing individual performance which would see him reach base in all five of his plate appearances.)
However, this proved to be the turning point for the Mariners against starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who had been excellent through the first five innings. Suddenly he started to fall apart, as the next two M’s hitters reached base.
This set the stage for Taylor Trammell to come to the plate, full of confidence after hitting his first Major League homer the day before. And he repeated the trick with a three-run blast to bring the Mariners to within 6-4.
Seattle scored another run in the seventh to pull to within 6-5, but you wondered if the comeback would fall agonizingly short. However, a red-hot Seager had other ideas.
You can make an argument that the 33-year-old is still underappreciated to a certain extent, but that didn’t matter on Sunday. He came to the plate in the top of the ninth with two men on, and hit a three-run bomb to stun the Twins and give the M’s an 8-6 lead which they would not relinquish.
As a veteran in the Majors, Seager knows as well as anyone about what it takes to never quit in a game. Speaking to the media afterwards, he said:
“You’ve got to continue to fight, you’ve got to continue to battle and you don’t want to give those at bats away. So you’ve really got to lock it in, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Seager was also asked about the mental makeup of a young Mariners team specifically. He said:
“You’ve got this younger view. You can be told from an individual standpoint how good you are, but until you have success, especially at the big league level, there’s a confidence which goes with that.
“So when you have guys that are having some success, are able to come back in games, that’s big. It’s good for the morale.”
NEXT: IT'S A TEAM GAME