The longest road trip of the season for the Minnesota Twins started on a positive note, but has turned sour in a hurry.
The Twins look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss while trying to prevent from being swept by the lowly Seattle Mariners for the first time in five years Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota (74-58) lost 3-2 at Seattle on Tuesday night, thus falling to 2-4 on their 14-game trip that started with two victories over AL West-leading Los Angeles.
The Twins held a one-half game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central after beating the Angels on Friday, but are now two back of the White Sox - their largest deficit since play began on July 27 - and 2 1/2 behind Boston in the wild-card race.
“I don’t think we have enough energy or are playing with enough enthusiasm,” Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. “We’re not making anything happen right now. We’ve got to make things happen, not sit back.”
While Minnesota swept Seattle (50-82) at home from Aug. 15-17, they hope the Mariners, who have won three in a row, don’t return the favor for the first time since sweeping a four-game set from May 29-June 1, 2003.
Rookie Randy Ruiz hit his first major-league homer Tuesday for the Twins, whose last four losses have come by two runs or fewer. The 30-year-old Ruiz, the International League rookie of the year, is hitting .318 with six RBIs in 14 games for Minnesota, which has scored seven runs in its last three contests.
The Twins turn to Glen Perkins (11-3, 3.90 ERA) to help them end their slide as he tries for his fifth straight winning decision. Perkins shined in his last outing, giving up five hits in eight innings of a 9-0 win at Los Angeles on Friday.
“Perkins was fantastic,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He used his changeup well, pitched on the inner half of the plate very well, and gave our guys a chance to get going offensively.”
While the left-hander looks to do much of the same Wednesday, he’ll try to improve on his 1-0 mark with a 6.57 ERA in two career starts against Seattle that both came this month.
“It’s a good feeling for the whole team,” said Seattle’s Roy Corcoran, who recorded his first career save. “It’s been a rough year.”
Beltre is 6-for-13 with two doubles and a homer in his last three games and is batting .364 (12-for-33) with two home runs and eight RBIs versus Minnesota this season. He is 3-for-6 lifetime with a home run against Perkins.
Ryan Feierabend (0-1, 7.88) makes his third start for Seattle since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 17. He allowed one earned run and five hits while striking out five in five innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of a 7-5 win over Oakland on Friday.
The left-hander will make his second career start this season against Minnesota, after allowing six runs in three innings of an 11-8 road loss on Aug. 17.