Mariners-Twins Preview

Doug Fister contributed to the Seattle Mariners’ unprecedented
streak of stellar pitching but got little in return for his

Facing the slumping Minnesota Twins could help the right-hander
earn his first victory in four starts and the seventh straight for
the Mariners. However, he might have to outduel a red-hot Nick
Blackburn on Tuesday night when the Twins attempt to avoid a 10th
consecutive home defeat.

Before an 8-7 win in 10 innings Monday, Seattle starting
pitchers had gone at least seven innings and allowed two runs or
fewer in nine consecutive outings.

Fister (2-4, 2.93 ERA) had two of those starts – tossing eight
innings in each – but failed to earn a win in either game. He gave
up one run and six hits to Los Angeles on Thursday but exited a
tied game in an eventual 2-1 victory.

“He kept us in both games, and that’s all we can ask for,”
catcher Chris Gimenez told the team’s website. “He can’t get caught
up in the (won-loss record). His other numbers really show what
he’s done. If he keeps us in ballgames like that, we’re going to
find ways to win some of those.”

Fister will face a Twins team that has the worst record in
baseball (15-31), has dropped nine in a row at home and four
straight overall. Minnesota, however, scored three more runs Monday
than it did in splitting two games in Seattle last week.

Jim Thome homered twice in his return from the disabled list
(strained left oblique) and is seven shy of 600. The Twins, though,
gave up three runs over the eighth and ninth innings before another
on Luis Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly in the 10th for their 13th loss
in 16 games.

“You go on the DL and you go down, you always want to come back
and swing the bat well,” Thome said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win
the ballgame. That’s what you want to do every night. It felt good
to swing the bat good, but ultimately, it’s all about winning.”

Fister is also 0-3 with a 3.66 ERA in three career matchups
against Minnesota – his worst record against one opponent – and
will pitch opposite Blackburn (3-4, 3.40), who is 2-0 with a 1.63
ERA in four starts this month.

Blackburn earned one of those wins Thursday when he gave up one
run and five hits over seven innings during an 11-1 rout in

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in six career matchups
against the Mariners (23-24) and limited them to two hits over 8
2-3 innings in his previous one Aug. 28 at Safeco Field.

Seattle will try to give a better performance against Blackburn
while attempting to get back to .500 for the first time since April
4. The Mariners are also trying to post their first seven-game win
streak since taking eight in a row June 23-July 1, 2007.

The Twins, meanwhile, are trying to avoid their longest home
losing streak since dropping 10 in a row to end the 1957 season as
the Washington Senators. They’ll likely need an improved effort
from their bullpen, which has an 11.70 ERA over the past four