MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Baseball’s speed-up-the-game rule that starts each extra inning with a runner on second base has not been user-friendly for the Minnesota Twins.
The 10th has been nothing but trouble, this time caused by the Seattle Mariners.
Mitch Haniger homered and hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th inning, giving the Mariners a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Saturday.
“You’ve just got to keep grinding away,” Haniger said. “Close games, usually they’re just decided by one swing.”
The rulebook is more of a factor now, too, as it was last year when the pandemic-shortened season prompted some tweaks. All three of Minnesota’s losses this season have come in the 10th.
“The game, as we are used to playing it, does change, and we have to adapt to that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
True to his unflappable form, Baldelli was not worried about the trend: “We’re talking bunts. We’re talking choppers. We’re talking putting the ball in play, making a play in the field, and that’s the difference between a win or a loss. Sometimes it stings.”
Taylor Trammell, whose first career homer came earlier in the game, was the inning-starting runner in the 10th. Twins reliever Taylor Rogers (0-1) picked up Braden Bishop’s bunt in front of the mound, but he couldn’t get a clean grip and held off on a throw as a precaution. Haniger then hit a one-out fly deep enough to left for Trammell to come home.
“It’s tough,” said Rogers, the team’s union rep. “It’s just the way it’s set up right now, and not much you can do about it.”
Kendall Graveman (1-0) worked the ninth for the victory and Keynan Middleton pitched a perfect 10th for the save, after closer Rafael Montero let the Twins tie the game without a hit in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked,…