Fresh off of getting swept in their first interleague series of 2011 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Minnesota Twins return home on Monday to kick off a three-game series against a Seattle Mariners team that has a pitching staff that's on a serious roll right now.
The Mariners have seen their starting pitchers throw at least seven innings in their last nine games, a stretch in which they've gone 6-3. They've won their last five games after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Twins at Safeco Field last Tuesday, and as a team the Mariners have not allowed more than two runs in seven consecutive games. That's bad news for an offense that's struggling like Minnesota's is.
The Twins actually had one of their more successful series as far as runs are concerned against the Diamondbacks, putting up 16 runs in the three game series, but late inning meltdowns by the Minnesota bullpen resulted in three consecutive losses at Chase Field. The Twins are hoping that their offense will get a shot in the arm this evening, as they welcome designated hitter Jim Thome back to the starting lineup. Thome last played on April 30 in Minnesota's 11-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.30 ERA) will get the start this evening for the Twins. Pavano last pitched on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics, and it was one of his better starts this season. He allowed one run on three hits in six innings pitched, but was not involved in the decision in what turned out to be a 4-3 Twins victory. Getting the ball for the Mariners will be left-hander Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.39 ERA), who has been outstanding as of late. Vargas is in the midst of a 16-inning scoreless streak, and is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last four starts.
First pitch in this one is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time at Target Field. Be sure to check out our friends at Twinkie Town so you can get in on their Game Thread once the game gets underway, and we'll have your recap for you once the action has been completed.