Mariners end Twins' 5-game win streak

By Gordon Wittenmyer

Knight Ridder Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when Joe Mays started to forget why he's the most expensive middle reliever in Twins history, the first half of 2003 flashed before his eyes in a five-run inning that sent the Twins crashing to a 10-8 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at the Metrodome.

Mays, a former starter making $4.15 million this season, recorded only two outs in a Seattle sixth inning in which the Mariners batted around to obliterate a 7-5 Twins lead.

Two days after Mays kept the ball in the strike zone, and down, to retire all six Oakland batters he faced, he had trouble throwing a strike that wasn't thigh high and hittable, compounded the problem with two walks in the inning, cost himself another run by failing to get into position to back up the plate on a hit to left field and returned to square one in his efforts to earn his way back into the starting rotation.


All of which added up to a waste of eight runs of support and a wasted chance to gain another game on first-place Kansas City in the American League Central Division before the Royals open a two-game series at the Metrodome on Wednesday night. The Royals lost to Oakland 10-0 earlier Tuesday.

"We scored enough runs to win the game," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Those guys (in the middle of the bullpen) have to get their innings. We can't keep going to the same guys every night. …Joe; couldn't close it out."

Mays, who was demoted to the bullpen July 6, hadn't given up a run in two appearances since then, but all that had gone wrong as a starter with a 6.57 earned-run average in 18 starts this season seemed to strike at once in the top of the sixth.

He wasn't the only struggling Twins pitcher on this night. Starter Rick Reed labored 88 pitches to get through five innings, barely clinging to a 7-5 lead after the Twins came back from 3-0 to knock Seattle starter Freddy Garcia out and open a 7-3 lead.

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