MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nelson Cruz is playing a vital role in the Seattle Mariners’ postseason drive.
Cruz homered twice before leaving with left wrist soreness, Jesus Sucre homered for the first time in 14 months and the Mariners beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Sunday.
Nick Vincent, Steve Cishek and Edwin Diaz combined for 3 2/3 innings of no-hit relief for Seattle, including Diaz’s 17th save in 19 chances.
Trying to make the postseason for the first time since 2001, Seattle has won 12 of 17 and is 2 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the second American League wild-card spot with a week to play.
“We just got to keep battling. Hopefully at the end we can come up and surprise a lot of people,” Cruz said.
The Seattle slugger left the game after his second home run. He was sporting a large wrap over his left wrist in the locker room.
“I’ve been dealing with it for like, four or five days already. … It’s been like that for a few days so hopefully, it just comes down and I’ll be able to go tomorrow,” he said. “I still have my strength, it just hurts.”
Cruz has 41 home runs and 100 RBIs. He homered four times in the three-game series, and has nine in his last 10 games at Target Field.
After his wrist was looked at by the team trainer following a big swing and miss leading off the sixth, Cruz hit the next pitch into the left-field seats for a 4-2 lead. It was his third multi-homer game of the season.
One pitch after shattering his bat in the second inning, Cruz launched a 432-foot home run to the second deck in left-center field. The no-doubt shot gave Cruz three straight 40-homer seasons.
Max Kepler homered and Robbie Grossman had three hits for Minnesota in its 100th loss. This is the second time in team history the Twins have had triple-digit losses: The 1982 squad finished 60-102.
“It’s going to stare at you all winter long,” said manager Paul Molitor.
Kepler’s home run gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the second, but Sucre hit a two-run shot in the fifth for a 3-2 Seattle advantage.
It was the first home run since July 25, 2015, for Sucre, who is 10 for 14 in four games since his Sept. 2 recall from Triple-A Tacoma.
“He’s not trying to kill it, he’s trying to hit it and good things are happening,” said manager Scott Servais.
Seattle starter Taijuan Walker (7-11) danced around danger for most of his 5 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs. Minnesota was 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position through five innings before an RBI single by Juan Centeno got the Twins within 4-3 and ended Walker’s day.
“It was just one of those games, just a lot of emotion just from everything this morning,” Walker said. “Everything just kind of felt odd.”
Hector Santiago (12-10) allowed four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings for Minnesota.
Home plate umpire and crew chief Jerry Layne took Robinson Cano’s foul ball off his mask in the first inning and had to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms. Layne stumbled to his right and was grabbed by catcher Juan Centeno, who was quickly aided by Cano. Layne was tended to by Minnesota trainers for a few minutes before gingerly leaving the field. Hunter Wendelstedt took over home plate duties.
Twins: After officially missing five straight games with sore quadriceps, 1B Joe Mauer was 0 for 3 with a walk as the team’s designated hitter Sunday. Hitless in his last 15 at-bats, Mauer is 2 for 32 in his past nine games. He also struck out twice Wednesday before that game was rained out.
Mariners: Seattle opens a three-game series in Houston on Monday with Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12, 4.04) looking to bounce back after allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings against Toronto last time out. He’ll face the Astros’ Collin McHugh (12-10, 4.61).
Twins: Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.88) is to get the ball when Minnesota opens a three-game set Tuesday in Kansas City. The Royals are scheduled to counter with Ian Kennedy (11-10, 3.64).
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