They’ll try to continue their resurgence when they open a two-game series with the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome.
“We finished off a very big series. Hopefully we’ll be able to carry it over and get back in this race,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after his team completed a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics with Sunday’s 6-4 victory.
Minnesota remains 6 1/2 games behind first-place Kansas City in the Central, but has gone 4-0 since returning from the All-Star break. The Twins slipped back in the divison race by losing a season-high eight in a row prior to the three-day layoff.
“We didn’t even watch baseball (during the break),” Twins outfielder Torri Hunter said. “A lot of guys went fishing, hung out with their families. We’ve got a brand new start.”
Seattle could have helped Minnesota make up even more ground in the division race, but dropped three of four in Kansas City over the weekend, including Sunday’s tough 7-5 loss.
After rallying to tie the game with two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Mariners lost it in the 11th on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer. Seattle center fielder Mike Cameron nearly made a spectacular catch, but the ball glanced off his glove as it went over the wall.
“I just ran out of real estate,” he said. “It just tipped my glove and that’s all I had. I tried to squeeze it and hold onto it, but coming back, it must have popped out.”
The Mariners have won five of their first seven meetings with Minnesota.
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place, AL West. Twins - 2nd place, 6 1/2 GB, AL Central.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joel Pineiro (11-5, 3.28 ERA). Pineiro has won six straight starts, including a 13-2 rout of Tampa Bay on July 13. The right-hander has yielded two earned runs or fewer in each of his last five outings, and has not lost since a 3-1 setback to Montreal on June 11. Pineiro has split a pair of decisions against the Twins this year. He is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA in five career starts against Minnesota.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Kyle Lohse (6-8, 4.78 ERA). Lohse is 0-4 in his last six outings, including an 8-3 loss at Anaheim on July 13. The right-hander was reached for four runs and five hits over four innings after yielding at least five runs in each of his previous four outings. Lohse is 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .353 avg., 70 runs and 26 SBs; Bret Boone, 24 HRs and 76 RBIs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .305 avg.; Hunter, 16 HRs and 61 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 50 runs; Luis Rivas, 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 5-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - OF Cameron is just 1-for-11 in his career against RHP Lohse. … RHP Pineiro is 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA in nine road starts this year. … The Mariners have not lost three in a row since April 9-11. Twins - 3B Corey Koskie (back) on the DL, retroactive to July 12, and called up INF Alex Prieto from Triple-A Rochester. After the game, they put OF Lew Ford (forearm) on the DL and recalled 1B Todd Sears. … Despite their recent run, the Twins are just 5-11 in July. … Minnesota has not won five in a row since May 4-9.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 32-18 on the road; Twins - 26-23 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL. Twins - 3B Koskie (back), 15-day DL; OF Ford (forearm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.