Attempting to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season, the Minnesota Twins go to work at Safeco Field tonight in the second of a three-game set versus the Seattle Mariners.
Minnesota, which has won only twice in the last 11 contests, managed to snap a three-game slide on Friday with a narrow 3-2 triumph over the Mariners in the series opener, but still the club has the fewest wins of any in the major leagues with a mere seven.
The Twins, already 7 1/2 games out of contention in the American League Central and just 4-10 on the road, managed just five hits last night but still pulled off the much-needed victory thanks to Joe Mauer who delivered a go- ahead RBI single in the seventh inning in order to erase a two-run deficit. Jamey Carroll contributed a pair of hits and an RBI for the visitors, while Chris Parmelee stroked a double for the only extra-base hit of the game for Minnesota, later scoring on a throwing error by Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
"I just had a brain fart, and a pretty important one that cost the ball game," said Wilhelmsen of his wide throw to second base in the seventh.
Carroll, who stroked a single in the first inning, snapped a streak of 47 hitless at bats for the Twins. That was the longest hitless streak by a major- league team since the Padres went 47 at-bats without a hit in June 1995.
Minnesota starter Carl Pavano allowed just two runs on eight hits over six innings of action, while Matt Capps recorded his fifth save of the campaign.
Wilhelmsen was charged with the loss after walking a pair of batters and allowing a couple of runs to score while registering just a single out for the home team. Starter Jason Vargas gave up one run on four hits, striking out five, in 6 1/3 innings.
Jesus Montero and Brendan Ryan both delivered a pair of hits for the Mariners, while Kyle Seager knocked in a run and scored himself as the team suffered a seventh-straight setback and fell to seven games out of first in the AL West.
Taking the hill for the Twins tonight is Jason Marquis, making just his fourth appearance of the short season. The 13-year veteran was victorious in his most recent outing last weekend as he worked his way through six innings against Kansas City, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out one in a 7-4 victory.
The right-hander has clashed with Seattle four times previously in his career and has one victory and a 1.71 ERA to show for his efforts, fanning 17 batters in 26 1/3 innings.
As for the Mariners, they are handing the ball to their ace, Felix Hernandez. Against Tampa Bay in his most recent outing on Monday, the 26-year old held the Rays to a single earned run through eight innings, permitting just five hits and striking out nine, but at the same time walking a season-high four batters in a no-decision.
Hernandez, who has fanned at least 200 batters in each of the last three seasons, has a career mark of just 8-17 during the month of May and is only 4-5 all-time versus Minnesota in 12 appearances.
While Hernandez has been less than stellar versus the Twins in his career, the fact that the Minnesota pitching staff is laboring this season could certainly work in his favor. Through 25 games the Twins have the highest team ERA in the majors at 5.61 and have posted just six quality starts which is also 30th entering play on Saturday.
Over the last three years the series between the teams has been extremely tight, so much so that prior to last night's decision they had split the previous 28 encounters.