The Mariners’ feel-good story of spring gave his team some things to feel really good about in Seattle’s 4-3, extra-innings victory over the Twins on Saturday.
Taylor Trammell hit a 371-foot blast off Minnesota’s Michael Pineda for his first major league home run in the third inning at Target Field, a promising sign for the rookie outfielder after an up-and-down first week with the Mariners.
In the 10th inning, Trammel started off the extra frame at second base and eventually scored the winning run on Mitch Haniger’s sacrifice fly to left field.
The 23-year-old Trammel, acquired in a trade from San Diego last summer, was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of spring training, winning the starting left-field job by slashing .302/.388/.628 with five doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in Cactus League play.
He cooled considerably in his first week in the majors, posting just two hits in his first six games and striking out 13 times in 25 plate appearances.
He didn’t waste much time contributing Saturday. On a 1-0 count, Trammell pulled a floated 88-mph change-up from Pineda over the wall in right field, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Trammell pointed to the sky as he crossed home plate, and was greeted with emphatic high-fives in the visitors’ dugout.
Three batters later, Haniger belted a hanging slider from Pineda 407 feet to the second deck in the left, extending Seattle’s lead to 2-0. It was Haniger’s second homer of the season.
With the score tied 2-2, Kyle Seager came through with a two-out single to score J.P. Crawford from second in the eighth inning, giving the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
Crawford had reached base on a leadoff infield single off Alex Colome and then stole second. Colome appeared like he might get out of the inning after striking out Haniger, getting Ty France to ground out and then getting two strikes on Seager. But Seager lined a change-up for a solid single to center, allowing Crawford to score easily.
The Twins tied the score in the bottom of the eighth against Mariners reliever Rafael Montero, who walked Nelson Cruz, grazed Byron Buxton’s jersey with a riding fastball and then threw a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score.
The best development of the day for the Mariners might have been a second consecutive quality start from Yusei Kikuchi. The left-hander scattered five hits over six innings, with two walks and six strikeouts.
Kikuchi’s only blemish was Cruz’s two-run home run — an opposite-field shot on an outside breaking pitch — in the third inning. It was the fourth homer of the season for the 40-year-old Cruz.
Keynan Middleton shut the door on the Twins in the 10th inning, retiring Buxton on a hard groundout for the final out and stranding the extra-innings runner at second base. It was Middleton’s first save with the Mariners.