After being terrorized by Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, the second- and third-leading hitters in the major leagues, the Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff will now have to deal with No. 1.
Luis Arraez, who is hitting .359, and the Minnesota Twins will open a three-game series Monday night at Seattle.
Devers hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and six pitchers combined for a one-hitter as the Red Sox beat the Mariners 2-0 Sunday afternoon, snapping Seattle’s streak of winning four consecutive series.
“There might be one or two hitters in this league that can even square that ball up, let alone hit it out of the ballpark,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of the high-and-outside pitch that Devers hit opposite field. “You have to tip your hat.
“One of those games that was going to come down to a big swing of the bat. Unfortunately they got it, we didn’t.”
Martinez homered in each of the first two games of the series, snapping a 19-game drought, his longest since 2014.
Arraez was hitless in four at-bats Sunday as the Twins, who lead the American League’s Central Division, lost 6-0 to visiting Tampa Bay.
Arraez had homered in two of the previous three games, including his first career grand slam in a 6-5 victory Saturday.
Arraez went 3-for-5 that day, his seventh game with three or more hits this season, and his 12th multi-hit game in his past 20 starts.
“Mind-blowing,” Twins closer Emilio Pagan said of Arraez. “It doesn’t make sense. Nobody should be able to get that many hits that many days in a row. He’s incredible. He puts a lot of work into it, and I hope he keeps it going all year. I told him he’s going to win the batting title, be the All-Star first baseman.”
Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (2-7, 4.35 ERA) will have the task of facing Arraez in the series opener. Flexen is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota. He pitched eight scoreless innings against the visiting Twins last June 15, allowing four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
The Twins are set to counter with right-hander Chris Archer (1-2, 3.65). He’s 1-3 with a 2.90 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle.
The Twins just went 5-4 in a nine-game stretch against the New York Yankees, Toronto and Tampa Bay, the top three teams in the loaded AL East.
“I think we showed that when we get into a playoff series with these guys, we’ve got more than enough to beat them in a three-game, five-game series,” Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “We’ve shown that, and we’re down a lot of our pitching. We’re down a lot of our starters. We get those types of players back, we’re a team to contend with.”
Added outfielder Byron Buxton: “I feel like teams are measuring us. They don’t know what we’re capable of, and that’s what makes us a little bit more scary.”
–Field Level Media