Walker allows 3 homers, Mariners swept by Twins
SEATTLE (AP) Felix Hernandez and Wade Miley both turned in lackluster outings for the Mariners this weekend, and Seattle was hopeful Taijuan Walker could provide a lift against the lowly Minnesota Twins.
No such luck. Walker allowed three homers and five runs over 4 1/3 innings and the Mariners lost to the Twins 5-4 on Sunday to cap a three-game sweep against the American League's worst team.
Seattle starters allowed 16 earned runs to the Twins, who have the AL's worst record at 15-34.
''We didn't pitch well this series,'' manager Scott Servais said. ''And that's key for any team to keep the game going, momentum-wise or whatnot. It's the starting pitching that drives it and our guys have struggled a little bit. It's going to happen. Unfortunately it all happened at the same time this series.''
Ricky Nolasco (2-3) allowed two runs on three hits over six innings for Minnesota. Kevin Jepsen got his sixth save despite allowing two runs.
A solo home run by Robinson Cano gave the Mariners an early 1-0 advantage and tied Cano for the league lead in home runs with his 15th.
''Wasn't really expecting a swing,'' Nolasco said. ''Six pitches to the first two guys and he jumped me. It worked. That's what he does. He doesn't need too many pitches until he does some damage.''
Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano hit back-to-back home runs off Walker into the bullpens behind left field for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Sano has homered in four consecutive games, all Minnesota victories.
''Through the first (at-bats) I beat them with the fastball,'' Walker said. ''Second time through, I tried to sneak a couple offspeed pitches by them and they got them. The changeup wasn't a bad pitch, but Mauer is a really good hitter. The last couple home runs off us have been (offspeed) and he just took it that way.''
Walker's five earned runs marked a season high.
''I thought Taijuan's stuff was just OK,'' Servais said. ''He was trying to compete and trying to find it but he did make mistakes and they got him.''
With two outs in the ninth, Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run home run to center off Jepsen to trim the gap to 5-4, but Jepsen got pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee to strike out to end the rally.
Twins 2B Brian Dozier was hit in the head by Walker's pitch in the fifth inning. After briefly gathering himself, he remained in the game and ran to first base with a smile on his face. The pitch glanced off Dozier's helmet but didn't cause any significant damage. ''It kind of grazed the side of my neck and my head. That's what hit my helmet off, but I'm fine,'' Dozier said.
The Mariners reacquired slugging prospect Patrick Kivlehan from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. RHP Evan Scribner was moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear room on the 40-man roster. Kivlehan, RHP Tom Wilhemsen and OF James Jones were traded to the Rangers in exchange for OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass in November. The Rangers had designated Kivlehan for assignment last week.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki was not in the starting lineup but was available to play Sunday after experiencing concussion-like symptoms in Friday's game. He's still day-to-day. ... 3B Trevor Plouffe will be re-evaluated tomorrow in Oakland. He is also day-to-day after suffering a bone bruise
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte took batting practice in the cage on Sunday. He said he feels back to normal after suffering a sprained left thumb last weekend in Cincinnati. Marte is expected to play four games with Triple-A Tacoma beginning Tuesday and be activated from the disabled list on June 6.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (1-3, 4.17 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season against Oakland on Monday. Santana allowed a season-high six earned runs in his last start against the Kansas City Royals.
Mariners: RHP Nathan Karns (4-1, 3.53 ERA) has gone at least five innings with three runs or fewer allowed in six consecutive starts. Karns will get the ball against the San Diego Padres on Monday.