(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (48-40) return home where Kyle Seager lights the world on fire and the club is nearing the .500 mark (21-22). Right-hander Chris Young pitches very well at Safeco Field and he’s slated to go in Game 2 Tuesday night. The Minnesota Twins (39-48) have faded since adding Kendrys Morales last month, and injuries to the lineup are starting to pile up. Joe Mauer is not expected to play for the Twins in this series, nor is Danny Santana, among the more productive bats on the roster the past several weeks.

The Mariners are 40-27 since April 23 — the day game when Seager hit the walk-off home run to end an eight-game losing streak — and the club begins their series versus the Twins with a two-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays for the second Wild Card berth. The Royals sit 2 1/2 games back and the Yankees begin play Monday 3 1/2 games off the pace.

Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Monday: Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP vs. Kevin Correia, RHP
This one is simple; Iwakuma has tossed 26 2/3 consecutive innings of shutout baseball against the Twins.

Iwakuma vs. Twins
Chris Colabello: 1-2, SO
Brian Dozier: 2-7, SO
Kendrys Morales: 3-13, 2-2B, 2 SO
Chris Parmalee: 2-2, 2B, BB
Trevor Plouffe: 1-8, 3 SO
Kurt Suzuki: 0-1
Josh Willingham: 0-8, BB, 2 SO

Iwakuma Splits (big-leagues):
LHB: .310/.319/.443 3 HR
RHB: .209/.239/.338, 5 HR
Home: 3.35 ERA, 6 HR, .254 BAA
Road: 3.31 ERA, 4 HR, .272 BAA

Correia’s season numbers are a bit misleading as he’s been terrific of late, yielding just eight runs over his last five starts. He’s a control right-hander with four useful pitches, but his fastball command is key, as is his ability to mix in two-seam, four-seam and cutters while setting up his secondary offerings.

The Mariners, collectively, have hit Correia well and the 33-year-old does have problems stranding runners once they get on base.

Scouting Kevin Correia
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (88-91 mph): 45
Two-seam Fastball (88-91): 50
Cutter (87-90): 45
Slider (86-88) : 50
Curveball (75-78): 45
Changeup (83-86) : 55
Control: 60
Command: 55

Correia vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 1-1
Willie Bloomquist: 2-3, 2B
John Buck: 4-9, 2B, HR, SO
Endy Chavez: 0-5, BB, SO
Corey Hart: 8-21, 2B, 3B, HR, BB, 2 SO
Brad Miller: 1-2, 2B
Logan Morrison: 2-10, BB, 4 SO
Michael Saunders: 2-4, 2B
Kyle Seager: 3-5, 2B
Mike Zunino: 1-1

Correia Splits
LHB: .298/.350/.439, 4 HR
RHB: .297/.322/.456, 5 HR
Home: 6.12 ERA, 5 HR, .305 BAA
Away: 3.69 ERA, 4 HR, .289 BAA

Tuesday: Chris Young, RHP vs. Phil Hughes, RHP
Young has been very good his last four times out and had his best pure stuff of the year in his last start in Houston. The curveball and slider have been commanded well and weapons against both righties and lefties, and he’s kept the fastball down or up and out of the zone far enough to avoid getting hurt in key spots.

He did serve up two home runs against the Astros, but he walked just one and gave up but two hits. He’s walked one batter in each of his last four games and hasn’t allowed more than four hits or two runs in those outings.

Young vs. Twins
Dozier: 2-4, 2B, HR
Eduardo Escobar: 1-3
Sam Fuld: 0-1
Morales: 0-1, BB
Parmelee: 0-4
Plouffe: 1-4, 2B
Suzuki: 1-4
Willingham: 0-5, BB, SO

Young Splits
LHB: .215/.294/.380, 7 HR
RHB: .195/.259/.376, 7 HR
Home: 2.19 ERA, 4 HR, .178 BAA
Road: 4.04 ERA, 10 HR, .233 BAA

Young’s problem with the long ball is worrisome, but he’s been able to dance around it all year and at Safeco Field his fly ball tendencies play significantly better than in many road venues.

Hughes flipped the switch in April and has been pretty good in his first year with the Twins, throwing tons of strikes and taking advantage of spacious Target Field.

Scouting Phil Hughes
Four-seam Fastball (90-93 mph): 60
Cutter (87-90): 55
Curveball (78-81): 50
Changeup (85-87: 40
Control: 60
Command: 55

Hughes likes to go to his knuckle curve with two strikes but has been very disciplined in using his cutter and four-seam fastball in breaking ball counts, covering for the fact that his changeup is well below average.

Hughes vs. Mariners
Ackley: 1-5
Buck: 2-7
Saunders: 1-3, 3B, BB
Seager: 1-4, HR, BB

Hughes Splits
LHB: .229/.286/.365, 2 HR
RHB: .265/.314/.366, 4 HR
Home: 4.25 ERA, HR, .266 BAA
Road: 3.01 ERA, 5 HR, .251 BAA

Wednesday: Roenis Elias, LHP vs. Kyle Gibson, RHP
Elias has struggled with command in five of his last eight starts, allowing five or more earned runs in four of those despite the left-hander limiting the free pass. His changeup is being left up in the zone, too, and he’s falling behind in the count far too often. When the count gets to 2-0, opponents are 15-for-42 off Elias with six extra-base hits.

Right-handers have been an obstacle for Elias of late, particular in the extra-base department with 11 long balls and 15 doubles.

Elias vs. Twins
Colabello: 0-3
Dozier: 2-2, HR
Escobar: 1-3, SO
Nunez: 1-3
Suzuki: 1-3, 2B
Plouffe: 0-3, SO

Elias Splits
LHB: .213/.284/.413, 3 HR
RHB: .245/.318/.393, 11 HR
Home: 4.44 ERA, 6 HR, .239
Road: 3.95 ERA, 8 HR, .238

Gibson beat the Mariners in Minnesota May 16, allowing one run on six hits over seven innings. He’s tough when he keeps the ball down and generates ground ball outs and he’s done a great job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Scouting Gibson
Four-seam Fastball (90-94 mph): 50
Two-seam Fastball (91-94): 60
Slider (83-85): 55
Curveball (76-79) 40
Changeup (82-85): 50
Control: 55
Command: 50

Gibson hasn’t missed bats in the big leagues the way he did in the minors, but he’s pounding the zone and appears happy enough pitching to contact and looking for ground balls, instead.

Gibson vs. Mariners
Ackley: 0-5, SO
Cano: 3-9, 2B, SO
Endy Chavez: 1-2
Brad Miller: 3-5, BB
Saunders: 3-6, HR, BB, SO
Seager: 0-5, SO
Zunino: 0-3, SO
Hart: 0-3, 2 SO

Gibson Splits
LHB: .280/.326/.400, HR
RHB: .212/.276/.315, 5 HR
Home: 2.51 ERA, 0 HR, .236 BAA
Road: 5.54 ERA, 5 HR, .260 BAA

Thursday: TBA vs. Yohan Pino, RHP
The Mariners decided to push back Felix Hernandez to Friday versus the Oakland Athletics and expect to announce Thursday’s starter later in the series. The options are slim, barring a trade acquisition, but include right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.

Pino, a 30-year-old rookie with four career starts under his belt — all this season — has never faced the Mariners. Left-handed batters have always been an issue for the former Reds farmhand, who sits 87-91 with a two-seamer and four-seamer and employs both a curveball and a slider, with the latter being his best pitch.

He will throw his changeup but it lacks sink and fade and all the things that make such a pitch effective versus opposite-handed hitters.

Sandmeyer Says | Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan
I really like the way this home stand sets up prior to the All-Star break. he M’s get a struggling Twins team for four games, give Felix an extra day of rest in advance of Friday’s showdown start against Oakland, and we’re expecting temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s all week long. Good stuff. Sure, the M’s struggled offensively in Chicago, but two players in particular have me excited: Michael Saunders and Logan Morrison. Saunders had a decent road trip after being activated off the DL two weeks ago (7-for-23, 1 HR 4 RBI, 4 BB) and Morrison hits the ball hard, just about every time, even when he makes outs.

If I had to pinpoint the single biggest reason for the M’s success –- and was not allowed to pick any other — I’d have to say the bullpen is why we’re here at this point. Right now, they’re just stupid good. They held the White Sox hitters a combined 1 for 32 (.031) their last two games over the weekend. Their 2.47 ERA and .212 opponent average both are both best in the American League. Dominant.

Congrats to Kyle Seager, who was named to the A.L. All-Star squad –- albeit for an injured player –- but still a deserved honor.

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