MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Pineda flashed a wide smile as he spoke about the end of his rookie season for the Seattle Mariners.
His future appears just as bright as the look on his face.
Ichiro Suzuki stopped Kevin Slowey’s no-hitter with a two-out infield single in the sixth inning and added an RBI double in the seventh, spurring the Mariners to a 5-4 victory Wednesday in Minnesota, the 11th straight defeat for the Twins.
Pineda, in his final appearance, gave up six hits, two walks and two runs while striking out two over four innings. He threw 81 pitches. Manager Eric Wedge decided not to push him further on a cool night when he wasn’t at his best. Because the 22-year-old Dominican has never thrown more than 140 innings in a season, the Mariners didn’t want to give him another start next week.
So the right-hander finished 9-10 in 28 starts with 173 strikeouts and only 133 hits allowed over 171 innings. Only Mark Langston, with 204 in 1984, struck out more batters as a Mariners rookie in one season.
“I didn’t pitch a great game today, but I’m excited because I had a great year,” Pineda said.
He leads American League rookies in strikeouts, starts and opponent batting average.
“In April, I just thought I need to pitch a good game because I want to stay here. I didn’t want to go to the minor leagues again,” Pineda said. “Now I’m very, very proud of me because I finished strong.”
Pineda had four no-decisions and three defeats over his final seven starts, but that was largely due to a lack of run support.
“When you look up and see his numbers and see the consistency with which he’s pitched, as a rookie pitcher it’s pretty incredible stuff,” Wedge said.
Closer Brandon League, who escaped a ninth-inning, no-out, bases-loaded situation to preserve the win the night before, gave up a two-out RBI single to Trevor Plouffe before retiring Brian Dinkelman on a roller in front of the plate with two runners on.
League has 36 saves in 41 attempts this season. This was the first run he’s allowed against the Twins in 16 innings.
“In the end, it’s black and white. League got it done,” Wedge said.
Trayvon Robinson’s two-run, two-out single in the seventh inning gave the Mariners the lead and sent Slowey (0-7) off the mound. He has lost all seven starts since he was recalled from Triple-A and reinserted in the rotation he helped anchor the past three-plus years.
Suzuki was the only baserunner to reach over the first five innings, when the shortstop Plouffe dropped the ball for an error while taking it out of his glove to start his throw. Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley followed Suzuki’s single in the sixth with consecutive sharply hit doubles, and Slowey’s lead was suddnely gone.
“When a kid’s throwing like that, you need to recognize what he’s doing the first time around and second time around and make some adjustments,” Wedge said.
This is the third-longest losing streak in Minnesota’s 51-season history, behind a 14-game skid in 1982 and 13 in a row in 1961, the first year here after the franchise moved from Washington. The Twins (59-95) need two more wins to top their worst finish in Minnesota, 60-102 in 1982.
Twins rookie Chris Parmelee had three hits, including an RBI single. In 13 games, the 2006 first-round draft pick has nine RBIs. Another rookie, Joe Benson, hit an RBI double in the fourth inning. Dinkelman drove in a run with a single in the eighth.
But the Twins still struggled to come through in the clutch. They went 4 for 18 with runners in scoring position, and they’re just 24 for 151 — for a .159 batting average — while losing 16 of their last 17 games.
Plouffe grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with no outs and the bases loaded in the fifth, and Dinkelman grounded out to end that inning.
NOTES: Mariners DH Justin Smoak returned to the lineup after missing the last week because of a sore groin. Wedge wants to work him in slowly before putting him at 1B. … Of the 29 players suited up for this series for the Mariners, 17 of them weren’t with the team when they visited Minnesota in May. … RH Anthony Swarzak (3-7) pitches for the Twins in the series finale, the last day game of the season at Target Field, against Mariners RH Blake Beaven (5-5). Beaven is coming off an eight-inning shutout victory over division-leading Texas. Swarzak hasn’t won since Aug. 3.