While the Minnesota Twins appear to be playing some of their best baseball, they're likely in for a tough test against a right-hander who hasn't lost in more than a month.
The surging Twins look to match their season-best winning streak Friday night when they face the Seattle Mariners' red-hot starter Hisashi Iwakuma.Minnesota (23-28) took advantage of struggling Milwaukee by sweeping the season series for the first time in franchise history with an 8-6 victory in the finale Thursday. Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee each homered to lead the Twins to their fifth win in six games following a 10-game losing streak."It's a totally different vibe, I'm going to be honest with you," said Dozier, who hit safely in each of the four games.Minnesota now hopes to win five in a row for the first time since April 15-23 while handing Iwakuma (5-1, 2.35 ERA) his first defeat since a 3-2 loss at Houston on April 23.Iwakuma, who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings over his last six outings, ranks among AL leaders in ERA, strikeouts (69) and batting average against (.194).He fanned eight and gave up two runs and five hits over eight innings before leaving without a decision as the Mariners (23-31) snapped a season-high eight-game skid in a 4-3, 13-inning win over Texas on Sunday."I had a strong feeling inside, needing to stop the losing streak," Iwakuma told the league's official website through an interpreter. "That was one thing that I had in mind."Iwakuma pitched well against the Twins last August, allowing two unearned runs and five hits over 13 innings while winning a pair of starts.He's been tough on Mauer, Doumit, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham, who are a combined 2 for 21 versus Iwakuma.Doumit, however, may be heating up after going 5 for 16 with two homers and eight RBIs in the four games versus Milwaukee.Scheduled Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 6.85), who takes on the Mariners for the first time, is winless over his last four startsThe right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.64 ERA over that span after getting tagged for five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss at Detroit on Sunday.Pelfrey hopes to bounce back against a Seattle offense that hit a season-high five homers in a 7-1 win at San Diego on Thursday to earn a split of the four-game interleague series.Rookie Nick Franklin hit his first two big league home runs for the Mariners, who snapped a seven-game road losing streak."It's always nice just to get those out of the way," Franklin said. "Not only that, but to win and split the series with San Diego."Seattle may continue to be without left fielder Michael Morse (quad) and first baseman Justin Smoak (oblique) in the opener of this three-game series.Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday, but strained his left calf in a workout before the game and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.The Mariners have won eight of the last nine meetings.