Mariners-Twins Preview

Doug Fister contributed to the Seattle Mariners’ unprecedented

streak of stellar pitching but got little in return for his

efforts.

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

Oakland.

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

games.