SEATTLE — Three innings into his return to Safeco Field, Trevor May was in a groove.
In front of “at least 150” friends and family members, the Kelso alumnus and Minnesota Twins pitcher settled down after a slow start to retire eight of the next nine batters.
“I was getting a little bit stronger, I was starting to get ahead of guys,” the ex-Scottie said. “That’s how you get things to go your way.”
A lifelong dream was coming true.
But May was rudely snapped awake with one fateful line drive off the bat of Kyle Seager.
Leading off the fourth inning, Seager sent a 1-0 offering right back up the box, ricocheting off May’s right elbow.
“I didn’t see it at all, until it was about three feet away,” he said. “I just tried to get everything valuable out of the way.”
May gathered the ball and threw Seager out at first, but he immediately doubled over in pain. After a meeting on the mound with the Twins’ trainers, he left the game with an elbow bruise.
X-rays were negative. By the time the game ended, a couple hours later, May said the arm already felt better and that he doesn’t expect to miss a start.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder’s final line in his first major league start in Seattle: 3 1/3 innings pitched, two earned runs, three hits, one walk and a season-high five strikeouts, all on 51 pitches.
It was good to be home, and the Twins emerged with an 8-5 victory over the Mariners.
May just wished the visit could have lasted a bit longer.
“I heard some Kelso chants,” he said.
“Warming up in the bullpen, focusing on what I was doing was a little bit tough — there were a lot of people out there.
“It was fun. It was awesome to have so many people here supporting me.”
Among them was his father, Ron May, who made the trip up from Kelso with the rest of Trevor’s immediate family, some old friends and some other, newfound friends.
“I had guys at work hitting me up for tickets,” Ron said. “I had guys I barely know hitting me up for tickets.”
Trevor’s stint at Safeco Field may have been short, but it was eventful.
His first pitch of the day was a ball to Austin Jackson. He eventually struck out Jackson looking, painting the outside corner with a 91 mile-per-hour fastball for strike three.
With their next three batters, the Mariners started to do damage.
Seth Smith ripped a single to right field. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Robinson Cano worked May for a walk to put men on first and second.
Then Nelson Cruz — the major league leader in home runs, with nine — smacked a ground ball up the right-field line, resulting in a two-RBI double and a 2-0 lead for Seattle.
“He’s facing a good top of the lineup there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Cruz, he’s dangerous — he can hit it out of the park, but he uses the whole field.”
By inducing a pop-up and a routine grounder, May escaped the first without further damage. Then, he appeared to settle down.
In the bottom of the second, the burly right-hander needed just 13 pitches to strike out all three Seattle batters. Dustin Ackley went down looking. Mike Zunino and Brad Miller both whiffed at third strikes.
May kept it up his second trip through the Mariners order. After Jackson flew out to center field and Smith went down swinging to lead off the third inning, May had retired seven straight.
Cano broke the streak with a line-drive single to center field. The next batter, Cruz, ripped a hard grounder to third, but Trevor Plouffe went deep into the hole and gunned Cruz at first to end the frame.
Then Seager led off the fourth and promptly ended May’s night. Molitor said there was little consideration of keeping his starter in the game.
“I didn’t even ask that question,” he said. “It was pretty obvious he took the full brunt of the velocity on his throwing arm. That’s not something a kid should try to pitch through.”
After the game, in the clubhouse, May already appeared to move on — to the next pitch, the next game, and the next return to the Northwest.
“You come home hoping to be kind of relaxed,” May said. “Maybe next time I’m here, it will be a little more laid back.”