MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Zunino and Mitch Haniger homered to lift the Mariners past the Twins, 6-4, on Wednesday night at Target Field. Seattle has now won 12 of its last 17 games and is just one victory shy of the .500 benchmark.
Following Tuesday night's record-breaking 20-7 rout, Minnesota managed to plate just four runs off right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who earned the victory. He scattered five hits across 5 1/3 innings and struck out five batters. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eduardo Escobar all took him deep.
Twins righty Ervin Santana, who was handed his fourth loss of the year, served up a pair of decisive home runs early in the game after tossing his Major League-leading third shutout in his previous start. Haniger crushed a two-run shot in the first and Zunino added a three-run blast in the third. Danny Valencia recorded an RBI single in the sixth and Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano each collected three hits on the night.
"Zunino hit that ball about as hard as you can hit it, I think," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Ervin Santana has been one of the hottest pitchers in the league, so we really grinded at-bats, really got his pitch, I think he was close to 50 pitches after two innings, and our guys just didn't let up."
The Mariners are now 4-2 against the Twins this season. The offense has accounted for 45 hits and 27 runs through the first three games of this four-game set. Edwin Diaz notched his 11th save and has converted his previous seven opportunities.
"They do have a good-hitting team," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "I think Ervin will tell you he had to battle tonight. Probably didn't have as good of a feel for his slider as he did his last game out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Zunino's blast: After a pair of lengthy frames to open the game, Santana appeared poised to cruise through the third, retiring the first two Seattle batters he faced on just 10 pitches. Then Valencia and Jarrod Dyson set the stage for Zunino with consecutive two-out singles. Zunino then crushed a first-pitch slider to take a commanding 5-0 advantage. According to Statcast™, the homer traveled an estimated 438 feet with an exit velocity of 108.5 mph. Zunino has hit six home runs this season with his previous four blasts coming against the Twins.
"I guess he likes to play against Minnesota," Santana said. "There are players like that, that always hit good against certain teams. I guess he's one of them."
Out of the gate: For the third time in as many games, the Mariners jumped out to a two-run lead in the first. Gamel led off the game with a single, which had 13 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™. Haniger then deposited a slider into the left-field seats just five pitches into the contest. Per Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 374 feet with an exit velocity of 94.2 mph. It is the second softest homer that Santana has allowed in the Statcast™ era (dating back to the start of 2015). Seattle improved to 26-17 on the year when scoring first.
"That's what good teams do," Haniger said of bouncing back from Tuesday's 20-7 loss. "Yesterday, I felt like we still swung the bats pretty well. They just got to our pitching. It's a new day and you've got to put it behind you."
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Ariel Miranda (6-2, 3.67 ERA) will start the finale of the four-game series in Minnesota at 10:10 a.m. PT. The left-hander has won his last three decisions and held opponents to two runs or fewer in his last six starts.
Twins: Right-hander Jose Berrios (5-1, 2.84 ERA) will get the ball for the Twins in the series finale at 12:10 p.m. CT. He earned the win in his last start, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Giants. Berrios has pitched at least six innings in four of his six starts this year, after not doing so in any of his 14 outings last season.