The resurgent Minnesota Twins will seek their seventh straight win as they get a second look at Seattle Mariners’ rookie sensation Felix Hernandez when the teams continue a four-game series at the Metrodome.
The 19-year-old Hernandez made his second career start against Minnesota on Aug. 9 and yielded five hits and struck out six in eight innings of a 1-0 win, outpitching Kyle Lohse in the process.
“He threw almost all fastballs in the first couple innings, then he settled down and started mixing in the breaking ball and changeup,” Minnesota outfielder Jacque Jones said. “When you mix that in with 97-98 mph pitches, it’s going to be tough, especially when you’re throwing strikes.”
Hernandez’s next start was just as impressive. The 6-foot-3 right-hander struck out 11 and gave up one run and three hits in an 11-3 win over Kansas City on Monday.
“I am trying not to go over the deep end bragging about this guy,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “I would love to sit here and tell you all the flowery, beautiful things that I am feeling, but common sense tells me I should not go down that road.”
Lohse was the hard-luck loser when he matched up with Hernandez, allowing one run and four hits over seven innings to drop his fifth straight decision. He’ll get another shot at the phenom Saturday after ending his losing streak with Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He gave up two runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings.
The 26-year-old right-hander is 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners. Lohse is 4-4 with a 4.48 ERA at home this season in 11 appearances, including 10 starts.
Since losing to Hernandez, the Twins have won seven of eight games to climb back into contention for the AL wild card. They are 3 1/2 games behind wild card leader Oakland, and 9 1/2 back of suddenly slumping AL Central-leading Chicago.
Jones was hitless in four at-bats Friday and is batting just .188 (6-for-32) in eight games against Seattle this season. He is hitting just .128 (6-for-47) in 13 games in August.