Minnesota Twins
Mariners look for fifth win vs. Twins this month (Jun 15, 2017)
Minnesota Twins

Mariners look for fifth win vs. Twins this month (Jun 15, 2017)

Published Jun. 15, 2017 2:38 a.m. ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- One measure of a pitcher's ability is how effective he can be without his best stuff.

Both starters in Thursday afternoon's series finale between the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners struggled with command issues in their most recent starts, but each is seeking to pad an impressive record in the matinee.

The Mariners have taken two of the first three games at Target Field this week after taking two of three from Minnesota last week in Seattle.

The Mariners' hard-throwing left-hander, Ariel Miranda (6-2, 3.67 ERA), started strong in his last outing against Toronto on Saturday at Safeco Field and allowed just two runs on two hits in Seattle's 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays.


But, in his first start following his first career complete game, Miranda walked five in 6 1/3 innings and surrendered a two-run home run by Kendrys Morales.

"Miranda was not as sharp as last time out," Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

But Miranda is 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his last six starts as he prepares to make just his second career start against Minnesota.

It will not be an easy task for Miranda, who will be facing a Minnesota batting order capable of scoring runs in bunches -- 28 in this series alone.

In his previous appearance against the Twins, at Target Field on Sept. 24, 2016, Miranda was pulled after just four innings and 52 pitches. He gave up three runs on three hits, including solo homers by Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano, in suffering a 3-2 loss.

Twins right hander Jose Berrios (5-1, 2.84 ERA) walked three and hit a batter through 5 1/3 workmanlike innings against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, but he allowed just two runs and struck out eight in Minnesota's 3-2 win.

"Jose is not always going to be perfect with his stuff, but it plays," Molitor told MLB.com. "He was in a lot of trouble (Saturday), but he was able to dance around it and minimize."

Berrios has tossed six or more innings in four of his six starts since his recall from Triple-A Rochester last month and is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two Target Field starts this season.

Thursday marks the first career start against Seattle for Berrios. Of the Seattle batters, only Jarrod Dyson (2-for-6, two RBIs, two walks) has faced Berrios.

Berrios will have to deal with a potent Seattle lineup that has posted 27 runs through the first three games of this series, including a 6-4 win over Twins ace Ervin Santana on Wednesday.

"Ervin Santana has been one of the hottest pitchers in the league," Servais said. "So we really grinded at-bats. I think he was close to 50 pitches after two innings, and our guys just didn't let up."

Leadoff hitter Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano each had three hits, and Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino each homered.

"They do have a good-hitting team and they've got a couple of big names in the middle. But some of those other players are pretty good," Molitor said. "Gamel's giving us a lot of trouble. He's done a nice job as a table-setter for those guys, and we can't seem to get him out in the first inning."

Zunino has six home runs this season, with four of them coming in five games over the last week against the Twins.

"I'm still doing stuff and making tweaks, going to the cage after even days that are good to fine-tune stuff," Zunino said. "It's something that I still only started a month and a half ago, so I'm still trying to fine-tune everything and keep everything ironed out, and hopefully continue to get ahead."


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