Twins-Mariners Preview


Ron Gardenhire didn't mince words by saying that his Minnesota Twins "looked like a bunch of Little Leaguers" their last time out.

The Seattle Mariners probably haven't been quite that bad during their longest losing streak of the season.

The visiting Twins will try to end their 19-inning scoreless drought Friday night in the opener of a three-game set against a Mariners team that has lost six straight.

Minnesota (6-18) has dropped nine of 10 and was no-hit by the Angels' Jered Weaver in Wednesday's 9-0 loss, which completed a three-game sweep. The Twins gave up all nine runs through the first four innings, and their manager was not happy.

"We played terrible," Gardenhire said. "We didn't pitch worth a crap, not aggressive, missed a play or two, got no-hit by a very good pitcher over there."

With his daughter graduating from Southwest Minnesota State, Gardenhire won't be with the club in Seattle this weekend. Bench coach Scott Ullger will fill in with the MLB-worst Twins looking to end a drought of 15 innings without a hit.

"I have total trust in Scotty and those guys running the ballgame," Gardenhire told the Twins' official website. "If they have any questions, they can call me. But Scotty and that staff is pretty good. They've been doing it a long time."

The Mariners (11-16) are enduring their longest losing streak since a 17-game slide July 6-26. They will begin a stretch of six games at home, where they have dropped four straight.

Seattle took the first four games on a 10-game trip before totaling 12 runs and 61 strikeouts at the plate in losses the rest of the way. The last four defeats - all to Tampa Bay - have been by one or two runs, including Thursday's 4-3 loss.

"There are good things that are happening daily with different individuals," manager Eric Wedge said, "but collectively we're not doing enough to get over that hump."

No. 3 hitter Ichiro Suzuki ended an 11-game dry spell without an RBI when he doubled in a run in the fifth inning. Wedge rested Brendan Ryan, who is hitless in his last 26 at-bats.

Minnesota can relate to those offensive woes. Twins RBI leader Josh Willingham went 1 for 9 in the series against Los Angeles and Joe Mauer was hitless in six at-bats.

Justin Morneau sat out the last two losses with a left wrist injury and could return Friday. He's 1 for 6 - albeit with a homer - against scheduled Seattle starter Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.38 ERA), while Willingham is 0 for 11 with five strikeouts against the left-hander.

Vargas is 2-1 with a 4.94 ERA in four career starts against the Twins heading into his second 2012 home start. He was charged with a 7-2 loss at Toronto on Sunday after allowing two runs over six innings.

A rested Carl Pavano (1-2, 4.91) will start for the Twins after he yielded five runs over 6 1-3 innings and did not get a decision in last Friday's 7-6 loss to Kansas City.

Since joining Minnesota in 2009, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA in three outings against Seattle.

The Mariners won five of eight 2011 meetings with the Twins.