It might not yet be to the point where veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo is pitching to keep his job in the Mariners’ rotation. But if not, it’s close.
Put it this way: A strong start Wednesday by Gallardo would solidify his position.
The Mariners have won eight of their last nine. Their one loss in that roll came June 1 when Gallardo allowed six runs in three innings in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Gallardo is 2-6 in 11 starts with 6.34 ERA and trending downward: Losses in his last three starts while allowing 18 runs and 22 hits in 12 innings. Some of it is bad luck. Fluke hits. Seeing-eye grounders. It gets like that when you’re going bad.
But he also knows this can’t continue.
"I’ve been feeling great," Gallardo insisted after getting battered by the Rockies. "It’s the best that I’ve felt the last two or three years. You can just see it by the way the ball is coming out, velocity and everything.
"It’s just…just frustrating. I wish I had a better answer for you. I haven’t done my job this year."
The Mariners are also perplexed. Gallardo is right; his stuff grades out fine. His fastball plays in the low-90s. His off-speed pitches are, generally, sharp. Generally. Gallardo seems to have that one bad inning per game that kills him.
Against Colorado, it was a four-run second inning.
"We’ve got to get Gallardo back on track," manager Scott Servais said. "We’ve got to get him doing what he does, giving us six innings, keeping us in the ballgame. It just hasn't happened here a couple of times."
The growing question is how many more times does Gallardo get?
The Mariners’ rotation is healing. Felix Hernandez should return to active duty by the end of next week. Hisashi Iwakuma should be ready a week or so after that. Drew Smyly by the All-Star break if not sooner.
James Paxton and Ariel Miranda aren’t coming out of the rotation. That makes five. Even if injuries reoccur or somebody needs longer than expected to return, it’s no lock that Gallardo holds a job.
Christian Bergman has quality starts, and victories, in three of his last four outings, and the Mariners have won three of Sam Gaviglio’s four starts.
"I have to figure it out," Gallardo said, "and I have to figure it out as soon as I can."
***The Twins are starting rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia, who is 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in six starts. The game starts at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***Gallardo is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in nine career starts against the Twins. A year ago, while pitching for the Orioles, he held them to one run in five innings in a 4-2 victory on April 6 in Baltimore.
***Joe Mauer is 7-for-16 in his career against Gallardo, while Brian Dozier is 5-for-12, and Jason Castro is 8-for-21.
***The Twins, even after Tuesday’s loss, are 17-7 on the road and have won six straight road series.
***The Mariners are averaging 7.67 runs in their last nine games and have eight victories in that span.
***Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano has a .350 average (14-for-40) in 11 career games against the Mariners.
***The Mariners’ four-game winning streak matches a season best. They won four in a row on two previous occasions.
***Mauer has a .325 career average (93-for-286) against the Mariners. The only active player with a higher average against the Mariners is Houston second baseman Jose Altuve at .329.
***The Mariners lead the majors with 16 victories this season by five runs or more. The Yankees rank second with 14.
It was 27 years ago Wednesday — June 7, 1990 — that Randy Johnson, in his first start after pitching a no-hitter against Detroit, retired the final 20 batters in a 2-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago.
Johnson gave up a home run to Ivan Calderon in the third inning but struck out 10 and walked just one in a complete-game victory.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners