Red-hot Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma can make it an unbeaten month of May on Friday night when the Seattle Mariners visit Target Field to open a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins.
Iwakuma, a 32-year-old in his second major-league season, was 1-1 on the year after a 3-2 loss at Houston on April 23 in which he allowed three runs on six hits in five innings.
He's not lost since, however, going 3-0 in six starts while pitching at least six innings and allowing three runs or less in all but one of the outings.
He tossed seven innings of two-run ball in a 12-2 rout of the New York Yankees in the Bronx on May 15, and has since gotten no-decisions against Cleveland and Texas while allowing seven runs on 12 hits in 14 innings.
The Mariners are 7-3 in games he's pitched and Iwakuma is 2-0 in his career against the Twins, having given up just two unearned runs on five hits in 13 innings.
Minnesota goes with righty Mike Pelfrey, who continues to struggle in his initial season with the Twins.
The former first-round pick of the New York Mets was held to just three National League starts last season due to injury, then signed a one-year deal in the offseason that will pay him $4 million.
He was 2-1 in his initial three starts and 3-3 after six, but he hasn't won since May 5, losing twice and getting two no-decisions in four subsequent outings.
He was roughed up for five runs in 5 2/3 innings of his last outing, in which he took a 6-1 loss at Detroit on May 26.
Pelfrey has never faced the Mariners.
On Thursday in San Diego, Felix Hernandez tossed eight solid innings and Seattle totaled five home runs, including the first two of Nick Franklin's career, in a 7-1 victory over the Padres.
The Seattle right-hander had surrendered 10 earned runs while losing his last two starts. On Thursday afternoon, however, Hernandez (6-4) held the Padres to three singles, two of which came in the fourth inning when the home team scratched out its lone run, on his way to improving to 5-0 in six career starts in San Diego.
He has given up just eight earned runs in those outings, which span 46 2/3 innings.
"Felix was really good today," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "His delivery was better. He executed pitches and had good stuff. He threw a great game, that is what we want our guys to do."
The Mariners snapped a seven-game road losing streak and earned a split of the two-game interleague series. The teams also traded wins in Seattle to begin the week.
In Minnesota, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit homered in a four-run fourth inning as the Twins edged the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-6, to sweep the four-game, home-and-home set.
Chris Parmelee smacked a solo shot and added an RBI groundout for the Twins, who have won five of their last six tilts. P.J. Walters (2-0) surrendered four runs on 10 hits and a walk over six frames to pick up the win.
"I know they're going to swing, so I just try to make good pitches. If you make good pitches, you're going to get them out," said Walters. "Knowing that they're going to swing doesn't change my approach, but at the same time you have a lineup with guys that can hurt you. If you miss over the plate they're going to hit it hard."
Jared Burton fired a 1-2-3 ninth to tally his second save of the season.
Seattle won eight of 10 games with the Twins in 2012 and five of eight in 2011. Minnesota last won the season series, 6-4, in 2010.