(SportsNetwork.com) - Winners of three straight and five of the last six, the Minnesota Twins try to maintain their positive momentum this afternoon as they finish off a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Target Field.
Minnesota, which trails a streaking Detroit squad in the American League Central by 6 1/2 games, is in second place in the standings thanks to the recent run of success. On Saturday the club moved two games over .500 at home thanks to a narrow 4-3 triumph.
Brian Dozier continued his hot hitting with a three-run home run in the fifth inning, his 11th long ball of the campaign. Dozier also led off the scoring in the contest when he crossed the plate in the first on an RBI by Kurt Suzuki.
"We want to keep riding this little wave," said Dozier. "Everything is going good. The pitching is doing great, and we're playing good defense. And we're driving people in. So everything is clicking, and it's a lot of fun."
Thanks to the efforts of Dozier, starting pitcher Samuel Deduno ended up with his first victory of the season. The hurler allowed two runs on two hits and a couple of walks, fanning four over six innings. Glen Perkins stepped up to register his 12th save.
"Deduno was very good for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We debated putting him back out there for the seventh, but we all know the pitch count for him. So we wanted to protect him because he hasn't started many games."
As for the Mariners, stuck in the middle of the pack in the AL West with an overall record that is two games under .500, Michael Saunders knocked in a pair as he connected on just his second home run of the season. Justin Smoak accounted for two hits and a walk in the setback, the team's fourth in a row.
Roenis Elias was dealt the loss after giving up all four runs on six hits through seven innings.
"He has pretty good stuff," Dozier said of Elias. "He's a young guy with three good pitches. He throws his curveball hard and throws his changeup at 87-88, which is hard for a lefty. But everything is pretty firm."
Gunning for his second win in as many starts, Felix Hernandez heads to the mound for the Mariners this afternoon in Minnesota. The right-hander began the 2014 campaign with three straight victories before hitting a dry spell and is hoping the worst is behind him.
Hernandez landed back in the win column for the first time in more than a month on Monday when he allowed four runs on eight hits, fanning seven, through 6 2/3 innings versus Tampa Bay on the road.
A member of the Mariners since breaking into the majors in 2005, the undrafted hurler has a career record of 6-5 to go along with a 2.07 ERA in 15 appearances against the Twins.
Speaking of Minnesota, the squad has decided to hand the ball to Ricky Nolasco for his ninth appearance of the campaign. The right-hander has just one win in his last five outings for the Twins, that coming against Tampa Bay back on April 24. More recently, the California native settled in against Boston on Tuesday but failed to earn a decision as he surrendered three runs on six hits -- two home runs -- through six innings of action.
Having spent the first eight seasons of his career over in the National League, mostly with Miami, Nolasco is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his only previous outing against the Mariners.
Minnesota, which won the season series last year (4-3) after claiming only two victories in 10 tries in 2012, is now ahead by a 2-0 count in 2014 versus the Mariners.