Seattle – For the past few seasons, whenever the Seattle Mariners were in the midst of a losing streak, the task of stopping the skid usually fell to Felix Hernandez.
It was a duty he humbly and gladly accepted.
Now it appears his hard-throwing protégé is pitching in.
Rookie Michael Pineda continued to impress, carving up the Minnesota Twins for seven shutout innings Monday night and leading the Mariners to a 5-2 win that snapped a six-game losing streak.
Seattle (16-23), with Hernandez starting today, can try for a winning streak.
Pineda was outstanding in the eighth start of his big league career. He scattered three hits and struck out seven hitters without walking a batter to improve to 5-2 and lower his ERA to 2.45. He threw 99 pitches, 70 of them for strikes.
The only trouble he found came in the sixth inning when shortstop Luis Rodriguez threw high to first baseman Justin Smoak for a two-out error. Pineda then gave up a single to Jason Kubel and hit Justin Morneau to load the bases.
It looked as though the Twins (12-27) might score when Pineda left an 0-1 slider up in the strike zone. But Michael Cuddyer’s hard grounder up the middle struck Pineda in the foot and bounced right to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who flipped to Rodriguez for the force out.
With Pineda putting up zeros, the Mariners managed to score a few runs for him.
Jack Cust doubled off the wall in right in the first inning to drive in Chone Figgins with the first run.
Seattle got an RBI double from Smoak in the third inning to go up 2-0.
In a Seattle rarity, the Mariners hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning.
With two outs, Kennedy hit his fourth homer of the season to right field. Carlos Peguero followed with a laser to right that barely cleared the wall and edged around the foul pole.
Seattle added a run in the eighth when pinch-runner Brendan Ryan scored on sacrifice fly by Kennedy.
Ryan replaced Smoak, who left the game as a precautionary move after rolling his ankle during an at-bat.
The shutout got away when Figgins threw away what looked like a sure double-play ball in the ninth to allow a run to score and keep the inning alive.
Another run came across on a fielder’s choice before interim closer Jamey Wright, giving Brandon League the night off, closed it out.