MINNEAPOLIS — Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron supplied the power for the team that leads the majors in home runs.
But utility infielder Ehire Adrianza supplied the hustle and the spark in the decisive six-run sixth as the Minnesota Twins topped the Seattle Mariners 10-5 on Thursday.
Cruz, who played for the Mariners from 2015-18 before signing with the Twins as a free agent, had three RBI on a solo homer and a two-run single, the latter in the big sixth inning. Cruz and Adrianza each had three hits, with Adrianza keying the big rally, delivering a hit-and-run single and eventually dashing home on a ground ball against a drawn-in infield.
“Adrianza did a really nice job that whole inning all the way around,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Max Kepler led off the sixth with a walk before Adrianza, with Kepler running, singled him to third. Mariners right-hander Brandon Brennan, on in relief, threw wildly past first trying to pick off Adrianza. Kepler scored and Adrianza took second on the throwing error.
Adrianza advanced on Brennan’s wild pitch and scored on a ground ball by Jason Castro with the infield in, sliding headfirst to beat second baseman Dee Gordon’s throw.
“In that situation, you have to be ready,” said Adrianza, who bunted for a hit in the second and has reached base in 17 consecutive games, a career high. “When I got to third, Tony (third base coach Tony Diaz) told me, you’re going on contact. I was trying to get a pretty good lead and read the swing. I thought I did a pretty good job with it.”
Four more runs followed as the Twins batted around, Cruz and Kepler each drove in two with singles. Four of the six runs in the inning were charged to Brennan (2-6), who faced seven batters in the three-game series without retiring any of them. Brennan said he has been pitching through mid-back fatigue that affected his command.
“He’s not feeling great,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais. “He was good to go today. Coming out of the game, he was a little bit frustrated. He’s getting looked at to see where he’s at going forward. I hope he is. He just hasn’t been sharp probably the last three, four times out.”
Seattle lost for the 24th time in 33 games and is 16-41 since its 13-2 start.
Cruz gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the third with his fifth home run in seven games, a line drive into the lower seats in left. That was the only run allowed in five innings by Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi, a Japanese left-hander who lost his previous three starts.
“We know we can hit homers, but that’s not the only way we can score runs,” Cruz said. “Today was a hit-and-run and score from third with the infield in. It’s a real exciting team to be a part of.”
Twins starter Michael Pineda, facing the team that signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, limited Seattle to two hits in 5 2/3 innings and left the game with two on and a 1-0 lead.
Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach, coming off a career-high four-hit game on Wednesday, singled against Twins reliever Ryne Harper to tie it, the run charged to Pineda.
Harper (2-0), a 30-year-old rookie who pitched into the seventh, was the beneficiary of the Twins’ rally.
Cron hit his 15th homer in the seventh for the Twins, who lead the majors with 132. Jorge Polanco’s single in the sixth-inning rally gave him a career-high 14-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors.
Seattle’s Mallex Smith extended his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 12 games with a single in the eighth, when the Mariners scored twice. The Mariners added two more runs in the ninth.