Seattle (39-65) at Minnesota (57-46)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 39° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jul 31, 2010
  • TV: FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

There is still no target date for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau(notes) to return from a concussion.

The way his team is playing, there is no need for the four-time All-Star to rush back.

Minnesota seeks its first seven-game winning streak in more than two years Saturday night when it hosts the struggling Seattle Mariners.

Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, has been out since taking a knee to the head while sliding into second base July 7. He first wanted to be back after the All-Star break, and then by July 23 when he was eligible to come off the disabled list, but he’s no longer setting goals he might not meet.

“I’ve just kind of come to terms with it. We’ve taken this long, so we’re going to wait ‘til it’s better and we’re not going to rush back,” Morneau said. “When it’s better it’s better, and we’ll be happy and we’ll be out there for the rest of the season playing.”

After losing their first three games without one of the game’s top run producers, the Twins have more than adjusted to life without Morneau, winning 12 of 16 to move within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central-leading White Sox.

Minnesota (57-46) opened this three-game series Friday night with its sixth straight win, getting home runs from Alexi Casilla(notes) and Jim Thome(notes) en route to a 5-3 victory. Matt Capps(notes) worked a scoreless ninth for the save in his Minnesota debut.

“That was fun,” said Capps, whom the Twins acquired from Washington on Thursday. “I don’t think I’ve ever had an ovation quite like that.”

During their six-game streak - all against non-contending teams - the Twins have outscored opponents 58-16.

Seattle (39-65) fell to 0-5 on its seven-game trip, the team’s third losing streak this month of four games or more. The Mariners have dropped 11 of 13 on the road.

“We’ve got to take it in stride and keep our heads up and keep playing the game hard,” designated hitter Russell Branyan(notes) said. “This team, we could easily give up the way things have gone. But we continue to battle.”

Kevin Slowey(notes) (9-5, 4.76 ERA) will try to pitch Minnesota to its first seven-game win streak since a 10-game run June 17-28, 2008.

In danger of being removed from the rotation after compiling a 9.11 ERA during a six-start span, the right-hander has pitched better in his last two starts. He took a five-hitter into the seventh inning of a 10-4 win at Baltimore on Sunday after limiting Cleveland to three runs over 5 2-3 innings in his previous outing.

Slowey allowed one run and five hits over seven innings in a 2-1 victory at Seattle on June 2.

The Mariners counter with Felix Hernandez(notes) (7-7, 2.86), who could easily have several more wins if not for a lack of offensive support. The right-hander gave up more than three earned runs for the first time since June 8 on Monday, yielding four and nine hits over seven innings of a 6-1 loss to the White Sox. Seattle has scored nine runs in Hernandez’s seven losses.

The staff ace has a 2.56 ERA in 10 career starts against the Twins, limiting them to two runs over 15 innings in the last two meetings.

Joe Mauer(notes) is 11 for 23 with two homers off Hernandez, while Thome is 7 for 13 with three home runs.

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Starting Pitchers

F. Hernández Sea vs. K. Slowey Phi
13-12 Record 13-6
2.27 ERA 4.45
232 K 116
70 BB 29
1.06 WHIP 1.29


Saturday, Jul 31