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Seattle Mariners (81-73) at Minnesota Twins (56-99)
Sunday, September 25 - 2:10 PM EST
Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thanks to a weekend series against the worst team in the major leagues, the Seattle Mariners were poised to make up some ground in the American League wild-card race, but it instead might have signaled the beginning of the end for their postseason aspirations. The Mariners hope to rebound from a difficult road loss on Sunday, when they face the Minnesota Twins in the rubber match of their three-game series.
Seattle crushed Minnesota 10-1 in Friday's opener but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and only could muster a two-run homer from Nelson Cruz in Saturday's 3-2 loss. Coupled with a win by Baltimore on Saturday, the Mariners (81-73) fell 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the second wild-card spot with only eight contests left on their schedule. As Seattle watched its seven-game road winning streak come to an end, the Twins (56-99) stopped their seven-game slide with the victory and temporarily avoided their first 100-loss season since 1982. Minnesota also improved to 4-1 against Seattle in 2016, securing a fourth straight season series win over the Mariners and the 10th in the last 13 years.
TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Taijuan Walker (6-11, 4.32 ERA) vs. Twins LH Hector Santiago (12-9, 4.82)
Walker took his first loss since tweaking his delivery three starts ago against Toronto on Monday, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old Louisiana native was masterful in his previous outing, however, posting his first career complete game and matching a career high with 11 strikeouts while tossing a three-hit shutout. Walker was far less effective in a defeat against Minnesota on May 29, surrendering three homers and five runs overall in 4 1/3 frames.
After mostly cruising through his previous four outings (2-0, 1.80 ERA), Santiago came unraveled against Detroit on Tuesday, giving up six runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 frames. The former 30th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox has struggled at Target Field since being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 1, going 1-3 with a 6.83 ERA in five turns. Santiago allowed two hits over eight scoreless innings versus the Mariners on May 15 and has won both of his starts against them this season.
1. Twins 2B Brian Dozier is hitless in 12 at-bats since his 24-game hitting streak came to an end Thursday, but he remains only two extra-base hits shy of tying Tony Oliva's single-season club record (84 in 1964).
2. Cruz, who is batting .425 with seven homers and 14 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak at Target Field, needs one home run to reach 40 for the third straight season.
3. Minnesota 1B Joe Mauer (quadriceps) was absent from the lineup for the fourth consecutive game Saturday, but there is optimism he will play in the team's final home game on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Mariners 5, Twins 3