MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — J.A. Happ’s hold on a spot in the Seattle Mariners rotation is getting more tenuous by the day.
Happ gave up six earned runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of the Mariners’ 9-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
The left-hander has pitched five total innings in his last two starts and fell to 4-6 on the year, though manager Lloyd McLendon said he would stick with him through the next turn in the rotation.
“Right now we’ll keep running him out there,” McLendon said. “We think he’s a part of this and he’ll be out there in five days.”
Eddie Rosario finished a single shy of the cycle and drove in three runs and Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier also hit home runs for the Twins (53-48), who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the third time in 11 games.
“After you go through these last four days, any win is good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It kind of lightens the mood a little bit.”
Austin Jackson and Seth Smith hit two-run homers for the Mariners, who traded outfielder Dustin Ackley to the New York Yankees before the game.
Both starters were hit hard early and often, with Smith opening things with a two-run homer off of Phil Hughes (10-6) in the first inning.
The Twins came right back with five off Happ in the bottom half of the inning, sending nine men to the plate and getting a leadoff homer from Dozier and a three-run shot from Rosario.
Hicks went deep in the second inning for Minnesota, Jackson hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Mariners and Rosario scooted home in the fifth when second baseman Chris Taylor misplayed a grounder from Eduardo Escobar with the infield drawn in that put the Twins up 8-5.
“It was a beating,” Happ said. “It seemed like whatever adjustment I tried to make, they were right on it. I made some mistakes over the plate and it cost me. Not good timing for that after the few games we’ve had. I wanted to come out and put up some zeroes. Offense did a good job, just a brutal night.”
The Mariners are buried in the AL West, so they shipped Ackley to the Yankees for prospects Ramon Flores, an outfielder, and Jose Ramirez, a right-handed pitcher.
Seattle also optioned infielder Chris Taylor to Triple-A Tacoma, with corresponding roster moves expected to be announced on Friday.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Rosario thought he was going to become the first Twins player to hit for the cycle since 2009 when he lined the ball toward left field in the eighth inning. But shortstop Brad Miller made a leaping grab to take the hit away.
“I didn’t have any more glove,” Miller said. “If the ball was any higher he might’ve tipped off and got it. To see his reaction, he probably thought he got one, but it was kind of cool. You fight to the end. That’s baseball.”
Mariners: 2B Robinson Cano (abdominal strain) and 1B Logan Morrison (bruised left thumb) sat out again and are listed as day to day. McClendon told Seattle reporters that he hopes to use Cano as the DH on Friday night.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton (left thumb) took early batting practice, with manager Paul Molitor calling it “a very good day.” Buxton is nearing a rehab assignment. … The Twins placed 3B Trevor Plouffe on the paternity list after the birth of his son, Teddy. They recalled INF Jorge Polanco and expect Plouffe to return by Saturday.
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.03) looks to get back on track after going 0-1 with an 8.02 ERA over his last four starts.
Twins: LHP Tommy Milone (5-2, 3.58) will make his 10th career start against the Mariners. He is 3-4 with a 3.48 ERA in his previous nine outings against Seattle.
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