The Seattle Mariners are eager to pull themselves away from the edge against the also-sliding Minnesota Twins.
Seattle (46-56) is coming off of a three-game sweep at home at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks that culminated with one of Felix Hernandez's worst starts of the year. It is the lowest point of the year for the struggling Mariners, who are now 10 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
A trip to Minnesota (52-48) might be a welcome sight for the Mariners. The Twins are second in the AL Central, but are just 3-8 since the All-Star Break.
The Twins will need another good start from Phil Hughes to break the slide. Hughes is 1-0 and has given up just one earned run since the All-Star Break. Hughes has had success against the Mariners this year. Despite pitching a complete game on April 24, Hughes took a loss in a game where he pitched eight innings and gave up two runs.
He will have to silence a Mariners' offense that has been one of the best in July. Nelson Cruz has hit .375 with five home runs during a nine-game hitting streak. Mike Zunino has hit .367 during a eight-game hitting streak.
Hughes is catching a lucky break, however. The Mariners' other hottest hitter, Robinson Cano, is currently sidelined with a Grade 1 abdominal strain. The Mariners expect him to return in five days.
Mariners coach Lloyd McClendon described the injury as minor. "He was trying to make a play a couple of days ago and he felt it," McClendon said. "It's gotten a little worse. But Robbie's a warrior, and we don't expect him to sit for long."
J.A. Happ has had success throughout his career against Minnesota. He is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three games. He will need to watch out for Brian Dozier and Danny Santana, who each own a career mark of .500 against Happ.
Happ is coming off of his first relief appearance since 2014. He was also roughed up in his last start. Happ lasted only 1.2 innings against Toronto, giving up three runs and walking four batters. The Mariners lost the game, 8-6.
"I felt great. I think anything I would say would sound like an excuse, and I don't make those," Happ said. "So it's a situation where I didn't get it done, and I kind of just flush this one and be ready to go next time, which I will be."
Minnesota is 1-4 in the midst of a nine-game home stand.