MINNEAPOLIS -- Mariners right-hander Carlos Silva returned to his old stomping grounds on Friday night and the Twins welcomed him back to the tune of nine hits and nine runs in slightly more than three innings. From the Mariners' standpoint, it was not a pretty sight. The opener of a three-game series went spinning out of control in the fourth inning, when the Twins KO'd Silva during a seven-run rally and coasted to a 9-3 victory in front of 32,208.
It was the sixth time in 25 starts this season that Silva lasted four innings or fewer. "When he gets in trouble, he can't seem to make that big pitch," Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "That basically has been a lot of his problems. There is one big inning he can't seem to get through and it's very frustrating for him, and naturally so." The latest big inning started moments after the Mariners had received two gift-wrapped runs, compliments of a two-out, bases-loaded error by Twins third baseman Brian Buscher. That erased the two-run lead that Minnesota grabbed in the bottom of the first inning, when the first two batters that Silva faced hit doubles and eventually scored. Silva rebounded superbly, retiring seven consecutive batters before entering the fourth inning. "I thought he threw the ball real well in the second and third inning and was kind of over the hump," Stottlemyre said. "He was up in the [strike] zone in the first inning, but in the second and third, he was down." The result was six straight ground-ball outs and a line drive to left field caught by Raul Ibanez. Silva walked Justin Morneau to begin the fourth inning and Jason Kubel followed with his 17th home run of the season. The Seattle starter surrendered singles to five of the next six batters he faced and that was the end of his homecoming. "He elevated a couple of balls in the fourth inning and couldn't stop them," said manager Jim Riggleman, who was ejected for the first time this season in the fifth inning for arguing a questionable ruling by first-base umpire Mark Wegner on a ball that went into and then out of the glove of seven-time Gold Glove winner Ichiro Suzuki. "Mark felt that [Ichiro] never had control of the ball," Riggleman said. "From the dugout, Ich had his back to us when he made the transfer and I couldn't tell. I was arguing blind because I couldn't really tell, but Ich doesn't say too much, and once he felt he caught the ball, I have to say he caught it. He doesn't question things very much." "It wasn't like he was going to throw anybody out." The bases were empty and one out at the time. Asked about the play after the game, Ichiro intimated that the umpire was the only person that didn't see the play correctly. Riggleman received his first ejection for "repetitive arguing." "When you keep saying the same things, they will tell you, 'that's it.'" Almost as baffling as it was to see a ball that Ichiro touched fall to the ground for whatever reason, watching Silva struggle virtually every start since the end of April has been a combination of frustration and mind-boggling. "Carlos continues to throw great bullpen sessions between starts and warms up good before his starts," Riggleman said. "But he gets into the game and loses the sink on his ball. He starts throwing the ball thigh-high." Stottlemyre, a sinkerball specialist during his Major League career, can only shake his head. "He wants to win very badly, and things just aren't working out for him," he said. "He has the ability to make a ground-ball pitch, which he has, in crucial situations. But he hasn't been able to do it. It's frustrating for him. "I have seen his work habits between starts. He has the ability, but it's not coming out right now." It hasn't come out for quite some time now. After posting a 3-0 record in April, he has gone 1-14 since. "I'm not sure if you have talked to him, but I can sense that things are really bothering him." Silva decided that Friday night was not the time to talk, so he refused to discuss the outing. Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano retired the first 10 Mariners, a streak that ended when Miguel Cairo doubled into the left-center-field gap. Back-to-back walks to Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez with two outs, loaded the bases and Seattle received a two-run gift when Wladimir Balentien's routine grounder was misplayed by Buscher for an error. Seattle (46-75) did not score again until the ninth inning.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.