The Minnesota Twins are playing like they wish their season was already over.
Pineda figures to have a good chance to become the first Mariners rookie in 12 years to win 10 games Wednesday when he faces a Minnesota team trying to avoid its longest losing streak in nearly three decades.
Seattle (65-89) defeated Minnesota (59-94) 5-4 in Tuesday’s series opener at Target Field, handing the Twins a 10th straight loss for the first time since September 1998. If the Twins lose again Wednesday, it will mark their longest skid since they dropped 14 in a row May 19-June 2, 1982. They have to win four of their final nine games to avoid the second 100-loss season in team history.
“You definitely don’t want 100 losses. Anybody that’s got pride doesn’t want 100 losses,” right fielder Michael Cuddyer(notes) said. “You don’t want 99 losses either. You have to go out and play, and play hard.”
Since going 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA in his first nine outings, Pineda (9-10, 3.72 ERA) is 3-8 with a 4.56 ERA in his last 18.
Despite striking out eight - moving into second place all-time among Mariners rookies with 171 - in a season-best eight innings, the All-Star right-hander dropped his third consecutive start in a 4-2 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 10. All three runs off Pineda crossed in the first inning in what has been a disturbing trend for the 22-year-old. He has a 6.00 ERA in the opening frame.
“He threw as well as I’ve seen him in a while,” said Seattle first baseman Mike Carp(notes), who went 5 for 5 on Tuesday and is 7 for 9 with a homer and six RBIs in his the two games. “It just sucks we didn’t have any hits for him.”
Seattle has totaled two runs and eight hits in the last three games Pineda has pitched, but had a season high-tying seven extra-base hits in Tuesday’s series opener.
Pineda, who will be shut down following this outing since he’s already pitched 167 innings - his most at any professional level - tossed seven shutout innings in a 5-2 home win over Minnesota (59-94) on May 16.
Another victory would give the Mariners (65-89) three straight on the road for the first time since a four-game run May 20-23.
The right-hander has lost all six starts since being called up Aug. 11 after laboring through four innings of Friday’s 7-6 loss to Cleveland with 90 pitches, yielding five runs and seven hits.
The franchise’s last pitcher to lose seven consecutive starts in a single season was Chuck Stobbs, who dropped 10 straight for the Washington Senators in 1957.
Slowey is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts against Seattle, but has yet to face the Mariners this season.
Ichiro Suzuki(notes), 1 for 8 with five strikeouts off Slowey, is 24 hits shy of reaching 200 for the 11th straight season. Suzuki is 3 for 21 in his last five games at Minnesota, though he had a triple Tuesday.
Seattle is 4-2 against the Twins in 2011, and needs one win to clinch the season series for the first time since 2003.