Target: Playoffs 

Jarrod Washburn has traditionally been a strong first-half pitcher. The Seattle Mariners, however, are hoping the left-hander can turn around his usual post-All-Star break struggles as they continue their playoff push.

Washburn looks for his first win in six weeks when the Mariners (66-51) host the Minnesota Twins (59-60) in the finale of a three-game set at Safeco Field on Wednesday.

Washburn (8-9, 4.30 ERA) is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in six starts since his last win on July 4. It's nothing new for him, since he is 32-39 with a 4.33 ERA in 104 career second-half appearances, compared to 59-41 with a 3.88 ERA in 143 appearances before the break.

The southpaw is trying to avoid losing four straight decisions within a single season for the first time since he lost four straight starts while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels from June 9-26, 2003.

Washburn feels he may be able to turn around his season despite allowing a season-high three homers on Friday in the Mariners' 5-3 road loss to the Chicago White Sox. He threw a season-high 121 pitches and made his longest start since the break, giving up five runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out six in 6 2-3 innings.

"I still felt I had good stuff," Washburn told the Mariners' official web site. "The whole game, I felt like I'd thrown better than I had in quite a while."

Washburn has lost both of his starts with a 5.40 ERA against the Twins since he joined the Mariners in 2006, including a 6-5 loss on April 19 in which he surrendered four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He is 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 12 starts against Minnesota.

The Mariners trail the AL West-leading Angels by three games, but lead the New York Yankees by one percentage point for the wild card.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Seattle -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Seattle -135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Twins hope they can stay hot at the plate after ending their five-game slide and stopping Seattle's three-game win streak with a 11-3 victory on Tuesday night. They improved to 4-1 against the Mariners.

"It's been a long time since we shook hands," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Torii Hunter went 3-for-4 with a walk and a career-high tying four runs. Alexi Casilla, Justin Morneau, Rondell White and Mike Redmond each provided two RBIs as the Twins scored more than three runs for the second time in 13 games this month.

"Hopefully, this turns a corner and stuff starts going for us," Twins right-hander Matt Garza said after throwing seven strong innings.

Minnesota starter Scott Baker (6-5, 4.76) enters after he had his worst start since the break, allowing six runs, nine hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings of the Twins' 10-1 road loss the Angels on Friday. Baker had won four of his previous five decisions.

The right-hander has lost each of his last two road starts, falling to 3-4 with a 5.48 ERA in seven outings away from the Metrodome. Baker also lost his only start against Seattle, giving up five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-2 loss on May 1, 2006.

Minnesota's Joe Mauer is batting .469 (38-for-81) in 22 career games against Seattle despite going 1-for-5 on Tuesday. Hunter has hit .179 (5-for-28) against Washburn.

Jose Vidro is 11-for-20 with a homer and nine RBIs over his last six games for the Mariners, who did not homer Tuesday for the first time in eight games.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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