Mariners-Twins Preview

Four days in Minnesota could be what the Seattle Mariners need

to get another winning streak going.

Following a gem from their ace, the Mariners hope rookie starter

Hisashi Iwakuma can continue his recent success and help them

defeat the Twins for a seventh straight time Tuesday night.

Seattle (62-67) led in all three contests over the weekend in

Chicago, but lost each one after concluding a nine-game homestand

with eight consecutive victories.

The Mariners bounced back in Monday’s series opener at Minnesota

when Felix Hernandez tossed a five-hitter for his 23rd career

complete game in a 1-0 victory. Eric Thames’ eighth-inning homer

was one of the three hits Seattle could muster against Liam

Hendricks, but it provided the winning margin.

“It was a good feeling, especially to know that it gave Felix a

lead,” Thames said. “It’s awesome.”

Since losing their first meeting this season with the Twins

(52-76), the Mariners have outscored Minnesota 26-8 while winning

the next six between the clubs.

Thames’ homer was only his second hit in his last 10 at-bats

overall, but he’s batting .348 (8 for 23) with two home runs and

seven RBIs in eight games versus Minnesota in 2012.

Iwakuma (4-3, 3.64 ERA) is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven

starts, and has allowed one earned run in 12 2-3 innings over his

last two. That stretch includes a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Aug.

17, when he yielded an unearned run, four hits and struck out six

in seven innings.

The right-hander gave up one earned run in 5 2-3 innings

Wednesday while not factoring in the decision of a 3-1 win over

Cleveland.

The 31-year-old Iwakuma, who played professionally in Japan from

2000-2011, is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts since joining the

Seattle rotation July 2.

“His experience has really shown up, as far as I’m concerned,

over here,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’ official website.

“He’s technically a rookie, but he doesn’t pitch like that because

of all the time he spent starting in Japan.”

Minnesota counters with Scott Diamond (10-5, 3.04), who makes

his first start since he earned a six-game suspension for throwing

near the head of Texas’ Josh Hamilton during Thursday’s 10-6 loss.

Diamond, who is appealing the suspension, was ejected immediately

following the pitch. The left-hander allowed two runs, three hits

and two walks in 2 1-3 innings. He insisted it was not intentional

even though Twins star Joe Mauer was beaned by Roy Oswalt in the

top of the third.

“I was trying to work in on the pitch and it definitely got away

from me,” Diamond told the Twins’ official website. “My control

wasn’t as great. I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”

Minnesota’s most consistent starter, Diamond is 2-1 with a 2.75

ERA in his last six outings. He gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings

while not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 loss at Seattle on

Aug. 18.

Mauer had one of the five hits Monday for Minnesota, which has

lost 15 of 18. He is 4 for 25 (.160) in his last seven games, and 5

for 28 (.179) versus Seattle this season.