With two wins in a row, Hisashi Iwakuma appears to be past a stretch of sub-par outings. He’ll go for win No. 10 Thursday when the Mariners play Minnesota.
GAME: Twins (43-55, 4th AL Central, -12.0 GB) at Mariners (48-53, 3rd, AL West, -11.0 GB). GAME #: 102. SERIES: 1st of 4 games. MEETING: 4th (Twins lead 2-1). WHEN: Thursday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Twins L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
In April, most experts, including Baseball Prospectus, figured the Minnesota Twins would lag in the American League Central and finish with around 66 wins. Such wisdom: the Twins will arrive at Safeco Field Thursday for the start of a four-game series with a 43-55 mark (lost to the Angels 1-0 Wednesday), their showing largely a result of poor starting pitching.
Minnesota ranks 13th in team ERA (4.33), 14th in hits allowed (948), 10th in earned runs allowed (420) and second in home run surrendered (94). None of their primary starters has a WHIP under 1.30 or an ERA under 4.10. The “ace” of the staff is RHP Kevin Correia, who will bring a 7-6/4.17/1.36 slash line into Safeco to oppose Hisashi Iwakuma, coming off two nice starts after a patch of five rough outings.
A 10-1 crushing by Cleveland Wednesday ended an eight-game win streak. Joe Saunders failed to go beyond 4.2 innings (five earned runs), Hector Noesi (why aren’t we surprised?) gave up a grand slam (Michael Bourn), and the Mariners offense, so hot lately, could only generated one hit off Scott Kazmir.
The Mariners and Twins have met once this season, May 31-June 2 at Target Center in Minneapolis. The Twins won two, Seattle’s only victory coming May 31 when the Mariners prevailed behind a superlative effort from Iwakuma, who who scattered seven hits over 7.2 innings with five strikeouts and two walks for his sixth victory against one loss.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-4, 2.99 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 22nd start and second against Minnesota. The Mariners’ All-Star appears back on track , winning his second in a row Saturday with 7.0 innings of two-run ball in Houston. Iwakuma is 4-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts at Safeco this year.
INDIANS: RHP Kevin Correia (7-4, 4.17, 1.36 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Correia, a San Diego native in his 11th major league season and first with Minnesota, will make his 20th start and second against the Mariners. Correia pitched well against the Cleveland Indians Saturday, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk over six innings. He notched his team-leading 10th quality start and his first win since June 19.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|7/25||Thr||vs. Minn||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-4) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (7-6)|
|7/26||Fri||vs. Minn||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (5-9)|
|7/27||Sat||vs. Minn||RHP Aaron Harang (5-8) vs. RHP Samuel Deduno (5-4)|
|7/28||Sun||vs. Minn||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-0) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (2-2)|