SEATTLE (AP) — Sam Fuld so rarely hits home runs it’s difficult for the Minnesota center fielder to tell the difference between a deep fly ball and a shot that might leave the park.
Especially in a park known to be unfriendly to hitters like Safeco Field.
“I really don’t hit enough to know whether it’s going to be an F-9 or a home run,” Fuld said.
Fuld barely cleared the wall with his second home run of the season, Phil Hughes pitched into the eighth inning and the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners 2-0 on Tuesday night.
A night after Fuld could not pull back Michael Saunders’ home run, the roles were reversed. Fuld hit a 3-2 pitch from Seattle starter Chris Young (8-5) beyond the wall in right and just out of the reach of Saunders for the solo shot in the fifth inning. It was the first homer for Fuld since April 10. He finished with three hits and two stolen bases.
Fuld took a hard tumble after crashing into the wall trying to snag Saunders’ shot on Monday night. He woke up sore, but showed up to the park early and made sure manager Ron Gardenhire knew he was fine to play.
“That home run was big. Getting a run on the board here, we hadn’t scored yet up in Seattle to that point,” Gardenhire said. “We know coming in here this team pitches very well, that their bullpen is strong so runs are going to be a premium.”
Hughes rebounded from being knocked around in his previous two starts to shut down the Mariners. Hughes (9-5) gave up eight hits in 7 1-3 innings, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter in silencing Seattle’s stagnant offense.
Hughes had given up a combined 19 hits and 12 earned runs in his past two starts, losses to Texas and the Yankees. But he had a strong history pitching in Seattle, and is 5-0 with a 0.61 ERA in seven career games at Safeco Field.
Hughes went to a three-ball count just once and Logan Morrison’s double in the fourth was the only extra base hit he allowed.
“The last couple times out I felt like I got hurt with a couple of weird plays and tonight I got some good bounces with the double play ball. Sometimes it’s just the different of a couple of things going right for you and it’s a different story,” Hughes said. “I felt like my fastball command was good tonight and I was able to work from there.”
Young was nearly equal to Hughes, yet unable to get a third straight victory because Seattle provided no offensive help. Young gave up six hits and struck out six, but lost for the first time since June 11. He was lifted after giving up a walk to Eduardo Escobar and single to Fuld leading off the eighth to put runners at the corners with no outs.
Brian Dozier’s sacrifice fly off reliever Yoervis Medina scored Escobar to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.
“I needed to keep that scoreless tonight, one at most, and give us a chance,” Young said.
No matter what Young did on the mound, he couldn’t help Seattle’s bats that have gone cold. Seattle has scored six runs in the past five games and is 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position during that stretch. Three times Seattle got runners to second base but they advanced no farther.
Seattle tried to rally in the eighth after one out singles by Saunders and James Jones, and Robinson Cano coming to the plate. Hughes was lifted for reliever Casey Fien, who got Cano to ground into a double play to end the threat.
“Frustration was setting in more than anything … and then I had visions in my head of Cano hitting a three-run homer. I’ve seen it too many times,” Hughes said. “Fortunately (Fien) got him to roll over into a big double play ball there.”
NOTES: Minnesota is 2-11 in its last 13 road games. … Seattle LHP James Paxton (back) threw a 33-pitch simulated game Tuesday and is expected to throw another this weekend before deciding if he’s ready for a rehab assignment in the minors. … Gardenhire has not decided on his starter for Friday in Colorado after RHP Ricky Nolasco was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. … Seattle 3B Kyle Seager snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a single in the sixth inning.
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