The Twins (75-55), who are trying to hold off second-place Chicago in the AL Central, started this seven-game trip with three consecutive losses to West-leading Texas before concluding that series with a 6-4 win Thursday. They carried that momentum into this three-game set, winning the first two contests, including a 1-0 victory Saturday.
Minnesota is now in position to sweep the Mariners (50-79) for a second consecutive series after winning all three games at home July 30-Aug. 1.
The Twins haven’t won six in a row in a single season against the Mariners since 1979. They also took six meetings in a row bridging 1987 and 1988.
Pavano (15-9, 3.56 ERA) will try to help them match those feats, but he’s lost consecutive starts while allowing 11 runs and 23 hits in 14 innings. The slump comes after he won six of his previous seven behind a 2.52 ERA.
The right-hander, among the league leaders in wins, innings pitched (182) and complete games (six), took the loss in his most recent matchup against the Mariners, 4-1 on June 3. He allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings.
If Pavano struggles against Seattle again, the Twins have the luxury of relying on one of the best - and now deepest - bullpens in baseball (3.27 ERA).
“I love to close,” Fuentes said. “That’s what I do. But I love winning even more, so as long we’re winning it’s all good.”
Fuentes hasn’t allowed a hit in six games against the Mariners this season, throwing 5 1-3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts while going 1-0 and converting all four save attempts.
Seattle has dropped six of seven overall, batting .206 in that stretch.
The left-hander is 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts since being called up from the minors last month. He has a 0.57 ERA in the victories compared to 6.88 in the defeats, including a 4-0 loss at Minnesota on Aug. 1 when he gave up four runs in six innings.
The feast-or-famine trend continued last Sunday, as French allowed season highs of five runs and five walks while serving up two homers in five innings of a 10-0 loss at New York.