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Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - 10:10 PM ET
 

Twins-Mariners Preview

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Felix Hernandez hasn't given up a run in his last two appearances.

The All-Star right-hander also hasn't let one score the last two times he's faced the Minnesota Twins.

Hernandez will try to extend both scoreless streaks - and win a seventh consecutive decision - Friday night when the Mariners go for a seventh straight home win over the Twins.

Since getting tagged for a season-high seven runs in five innings of a 10-9 loss at the Los Angeles Angels on June 20, Hernandez (11-4, 2.43 ERA) has gone 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts. He's riding a 16-inning scoreless streak after scattering four hits and a walk in six frames of Sunday's 12-5 win at Houston.

"I feel pretty good," Hernandez, the AL leader in ERA, told the Mariners' official website. "I've just been throwing a lot of strikes, trying to control the walks and just pound the strike zone and that helped me a lot."

So did working with a seven-run, second-inning cushion.

"Oh yeah, man, it's fun to pitch like that,'' he said. "The last few weeks we've been scoring a lot of runs. We've just got to continue to do that and we're going to win a lot of games.''

The Mariners (49-53) have won nine of 10 after routing the Twins 8-2 on Thursday.

Hisashi Iwakuma struck out nine in six innings for Seattle, extending his scoreless innings streak versus Minnesota to 17 innings.

Hernandez hasn't permitted a run in his last 24 against the Twins (43-56) after allowing just six hits spanning 17 innings in two outings last season.

The Twins likely will miss Joe Mauer - a .424 hitter (14 for 33) with four doubles and two homers off Hernandez - since the three-time AL batting champ isn't expected back from the paternity list until Saturday.

That means Chris Hermann, who had a ninth-inning RBI double Thursday, or Drew Butera will be behind the plate as Scott Diamond (5-9, 5.53) takes the bump. Minnesota has lost each of the left-hander's last five starts after he needed 91 pitches to go 4 2-3 innings in Sunday's 7-1 loss to Cleveland.

"My stuff was really bad,'' said Diamond, who walked three and surrendered six runs. "I think I tried to overdo some things, and that kind of led to what happened.''

More starts like that could lead to him losing his spot in the rotation.

"I know I'm not pitching well, so anything is possible, and anything could happen," Diamond told the Twins' official website. "But I'm still confident with my approach and what I'm focusing on and my stuff."

Diamond had great stuff against Seattle on June 2 when he threw six innings of four-hit ball in a 10-0 victory.

Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley, 4 for 8 with a homer off Diamond - all last year - has hit safely in all seven career home games against the Twins. He's batting .462 (12 for 26) in those contests after going 3-for-4 with two RBIs on Thursday.

"I've just continued to work in the cage and get my confidence where it needs to be," said Ackley, hitting .341 in his last 14 games. "I'm going up there with the mentality that I'm going to get a hit every time and that's really what separates me now from me before."

Tagged: Twins, Mariners, Felix Hernandez

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