The AL Central-leading Twins should be heavily favored Friday night when Baker tries for his fifth straight win in the opener of a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Minnesota (73-55) is 4-3 against Seattle (50-77) this year, posting back-to-back home shutouts July 31 and Aug. 1 after Baker (11-9, 4.63 ERA) gave up three runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-3 victory July 30.
The right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.66 ERA in eight career starts against the Mariners, including 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in three on the road.
The Twins have won his last six starts, with Baker going 4-0 with a 3.08 ERA in that span. He gave up five hits over seven innings Sunday in a 4-0 win over the Angels.
Baker was struggling at 7-9 with a 5.15 ERA before his last six outings.
“I really just tried to simplify things,” Baker said. “Instead of worrying about making a pitch, I just tried to make sure I was doing it right mechanically and whatever happened, happened.”
Lopez went 7 for 16 with two homers and six RBIs when Seattle won three of four at home over Minnesota from May 31-June 3.
The Twins avoided a four-game sweep at Texas with a 6-4 victory Thursday. Minnesota remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in the division, and regained a one-half game lead over the Rangers in the race for home-field advantage for the division series.
The Mariners split their season-high 12-game road trip after Felix Hernandez(notes) pitched them to a 4-2 victory at Boston on Wednesday. Seattle split a day-night doubleheader and ended a four-game skid.
“It was a nice win to end our longest road trip of the year,” interim manager Daren Brown told the Mariners’ official website. “To end up 6-6 on the trip was big, especially going into two places, New York and Boston, that are tough places to play.”
A return home should benefit Jason Vargas(notes) (9-6, 3.43), who is 7-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 13 starts at Safeco this year. That includes a 7-1 win over Minnesota in which he gave up one run over seven innings June 1.
The left-hander had his three-start win streak snapped Saturday in a 9-5 loss to the Yankees in which he gave up a season-high seven runs over 6 1-3 innings despite retiring 15 straight batters in one stretch.