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News » Twins-Mariners Preview 2008-08-26

Twins-Mariners Preview 2008-08-26

Twins-Mariners Preview 2008-08-26
After a promising start to their road trip, the Minnesota Twins have stumbled and are now trying to avoid falling behind in the AL Central standings by their largest margin in nearly a month.

The Twins look to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday when they continue their three-game road series against the Seattle Mariners.

Minnesota (74-57) fell a game behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox on Monday after losing 4-2 to the Mariners (49-82). The Twins haven't been more than a game out of first since July 30 when they were 1 1/2 games behind the White Sox.

Minnesota tries to regain some momentum after falling to 2-3 on its 14-game road trip - its longest since a 15-game stretch from Aug. 4-20, 1969. The Twins have been displaced while the Republican National Convention is in the Twin Cities from Sept. 1-4.

They began the trip with back-to-back wins over the AL West-leading Angels, but lost the final two games of that series before Monday's tough loss in which Adrian Beltre hit a two-run, walk-off home run off Jesse Crain in the 11th inning.

Nick Punto's error led to Joe Nathan blowing a save in the ninth, as Beltre scored the tying run after leading off in the frame with a double. The Twins' bullpen has blown two saves in as many opportunities in the last three games.

"We miss a play and it ended up costing us a ball game. Go to the ninth, it's normally a done deal for us," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Minnesota bolstered its bullpen, however, by re-acquiring left-hander Eddie Guardado from Texas on Monday. The 37-year-old Guardado, who spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Twins, worked a scoreless eighth inning Monday.

The Mariners have the AL's worst record but they have won three of four at home against the Twins this season. Minnesota leads the season series 4-3.

Scott Baker (7-3, 3.74 ERA) looks to help the Twins bounce back when he takes the mound on Tuesday.

Baker is winless in his last five starts and pitched eight innings on Thursday against the Angels, allowing one run and four hits in a 2-1, 12-inning loss.

"Baker was really good against a good lineup," Gardenhire told the Twins' official Web site. "He had a couple outings where (he) struggled, but to come back against these guys is pretty good."

Baker is 0-2 with a 5.83 ERA in five starts against the Mariners. He doesn't have a decision in either start against them this season, but has an 8.44 ERA.

Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-2, 3.84) counters for the Mariners as he tries to build off a promising start in his last outing.

Rowland-Smith is 0-1 a 5.03 ERA in five starts and four relief appearances since beating the Mets on June 23 as a reliever. On Thursday against Oakland, he pitched a career-high seven innings, allowing one run and four hits in a 2-0 loss.

"It's sort of bittersweet," Rowland-Smith told the Mariners' official Web site. "It's tough to walk away with a loss, but overall I was happy with the outing."

The Australian left-hander doesn't have a decision in one start and two relief appearances against the Twins. In the start on Aug. 16, he pitched five innings, allowing five runs and 10 hits in a 7-6 loss.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: August 26, 2008

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