Seattle starter Chris Flexen tossed eight sharp innings while striking out a career-high eight, and was backed by an early offensive outburst that plated five runs in the first two innings.
“It was pretty awesome. I don’t think anything really felt different. It was just definitely locked in and had all four pitches going,” Flexen said.
Crawford became the first Mariners player to homer on the opening pitch since Dustin Ackley in 2012 when he drove Happ’s fastball out to right field for his fourth of the season.
Long, recently recalled from the minors after a lengthy recovery from a stress fracture in his shin sustained last season, provided the big blow in the second inning with a bases-loaded liner into the right-center gap and capped the triple with a belly-flop slide into third base.
Long said he continues to try and rediscover his form from 2019 when he hit .263 in 42 games.
“I always think about it, just trying to get back to that guy,” he said. “I definitely think that I’m getting close to that and, I’m just working on a daily basis to continue to get there and honestly just be better than that guy in 2019.”
Jake Fraley and Ty France added RBI singles, and Luis Torrens and France hit solo homers late in the game. France had not gone deep since April 18. Seattle set a season high for runs and matched its season best in hits with 14.
Flexen (6-3) had never pitched beyond the seventh, but scattered four hits and twice had baserunners quickly eliminated by double plays. No runner reached second base for the Twins as Flexen walked none, and only a pitch count of 107 kept him from attempting to finish a complete game.
It was the sixth time in 12 starts this season that Flexen has allowed one earned run or none.
“Absolutely the best starting pitching outing we’ve had all year,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He just dominated the strike zone. I think it was first-pitch strikes about 80%, had all of his pitches working. It was really fun to watch when he’s got it going on like that with command of everything.”
Happ (3-3) lasted just four innings, the third time in his past seven starts the lefty failed to pitch into the fifth.
Aside from Crawford’s homer and Long’s triple, Happ wasn’t hit especially hard, but the quantity added up to trouble. His nine hits allowed matched a season high.
“I think he was at times getting a little frustrated with what was going on and maybe some of the pitches he was making, maybe the fact that the balls are finding grass behind him,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Really every adjustment he tried to make for one reason or another just didn’t seem to work out.”
FLEX ON THEM
Flexen mixed his pitches remarkably well, throwing 30 fastballs, 30 cutters, 30 changeups and 17 curveballs. He also got a pair of key double plays and leads the majors with 13 double plays induced this season.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (hip strain) ramped up his activity a bit, going through a full pregame workout with a little additional running added on, Baldelli said. It’s still unclear if Buxton will be activated for the series finale Wednesday or if the Twins will wait until after Thursday’s off day and a weekend series at Texas.
Mariners: Seattle remains hopeful OF Mitch Haniger will be back in the lineup in the next few days after fouling a pitch off his knee last Sunday in Cleveland. Haniger went through some pregame baseball activities and Servais felt a stint on the injured list would not be needed for the starting right fielder.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (0-0, 4.85 ERA) will make his fourth career start. Ober allowed two runs over five innings in his last start against Houston.
Mariners: LHP Justus Sheffield (5-5, 4.91) lasted just four innings in his last start against Detroit and has made it through six just once in his past six starts.
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