Mariners come back after Buxton homer, beat Twins 4-3

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ty France had three hits and drove in two runs, including a go-ahead single in the ninth inning that lifted the Seattle Mariners over the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Saturday.

Byron Buxton had given the Twins a 3-2 lead with a two-run homer in eighth against Andrés Muñoz (1-0), who got his first big league decision since 2019 with San Diego.

Julio Rodríguez, a 21-year-old rookie, doubled opening the ninth off Tyler Duffey (0-1) for his first major league hit. He scored on a two-out double by Adam Frazier, who came around on France’s single.

“I think there’s no panic with this team,” France said. “One through nine, we can get it done and trust each and every guy, whoever it is stepping up to the plate. Julio, he hasn’t had a hit yet. It’s in the ninth inning, he just goes out and does it. Anyone in this lineup can get it done.”

Diego Castillo struck out two in a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Mariners opened the season with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019.

Seattle manager Scott Servais noted the team’s abundance of close games last season in pulling out the first two, each by one run, to start 2022.

“We’re comfortable playing in those games and understanding when your back gets against the wall, you’re down to your last out,” Servais said. “You’re not always going to come through. But I think being in the right mindset, believing that you can and taking the right approach up there, not trying to do too much, just get on base. Pass the baton to the next guy. It happens long enough, good things go your way. Off to a go=od start.”

Duffey allowed two runs and three hits in the first save opportunity for Minnesota since Taylor Rogers was traded to San Diego earlier in the week.

“Guys came in before me and did their job,” Duffey said. “It’s just unfortunate to kind of go through that rollercoaster again, kind of like yesterday. At the same time, it’s getting the first one out of the way. I look forward to a lot more opportunities like that.”

Nick Gordon walked to lead off the eighth against Muñoz, snapping a string of 16 straight batters retired by Mariners pitching. Buxton’s homer, his first since signing a $100 million, seven-year contract, reached the third deck in left field. He turned to the dugout, flipped his bat and yelled in excitement.

“I mean enormous moment, and the kind of moment you picture yourself sitting here talking about prominently in the discussion instead of kind of an afterthought,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli. “But the kind of moments that we’re going to see a lot for him.”

Luis Arraez homered for the Twins on his 25th birthday, his first this season.

FOR STARTERS

Tom Murphy homered for Seattle off Sonny Gray, who allowed two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first start since he was obtained from Cincinnati last month. He struck out four and walked two.

Mariners starter Logan Gilbert settled in after a slow start, carrying over the strong finish of his rookie season in 2021. He struck out seven batters and surrendered one run on three hits, while retiring his final 10 batters.

The 24-year-old went 6-5 with a 4.68 ERA in 24 starts last season, but showed his potential late. He had a 2.70 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings in September.

Minnesota had a chance to breakthrough against him. The Twins stranded four runners in the first two innings, including leaving the bases loaded when Arraez popped out to left to end the second.

Gilbert said he started using his curveball and changeup more instead of relying solely on his mid-90s fastball and slider. He also sped up his delivery.

“Actually, when I go slower, I might be aiming or guiding it a little bit,” Gilbert said. “So, when I speed up, you don’t think about anything. You just let it rip and that happened to work out better.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: Abraham Toro started Saturday at third base for Eugenio Suárez. Servais said he had the lineup prepared for the first two games before even arriving in Minnesota in order to give more players a chance to play early in the season.

Twins: Nick Gordon made his season debut in left field. Gordon had collided with Max Kepler in the outfield during the second-to-last game of spring training.

UP NEXT

LHP Marco Gonzales (10-6, 3.96 ERA in 2021) starts Sunday for Seattle in the finale of the series. Minnesota will send RHP Bailey Ober (3-3, 4.19 in 2021) to the mound.

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