July 06, 2014

Neither Ricky Nolasco nor Taijuan Walker has picked up a victory in May, though the latter seems to be far closer to earning one.

Nolasco hopes to shake out of his month-long slump to lift the last-place Minnesota Twins to a series sweep of Walker's first-place Seattle Mariners on Sunday at Safeco Field.

Minnesota (14-34) took the first two games of this series, 7-2 on Friday and 6-5 on Saturday, and now seeks its 10th win in its last 13 games against Seattle (28-20).

Saturday's loss was especially excruciating for the Mariners after a wild finish. After having runners on first and third with nobody out in the ninth, Dae-Ho Lee hit a popup to right field that was not deep enough to score Shawn O'Malley from third. Seattle then ran itself into a game-ending double play with O'Malley caught off third base and Kyle Seager tagged out trying to advance to second.

The Twins will try to keep rolling against Nolasco, who has struggled mightily in May after posting a 3.25 ERA in April.

Nolasco (1-3, 5.54 ERA) is 0-3 with an 8.14 ERA in five starts this month, and his latest was an all-around disaster. The right-hander gave up a season-high six runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings of Monday's 10-4 loss to Kansas City.

It was the fourth time in three seasons with the Twins that Nolasco failed to make it out of the third inning, but the first time this year he didn't get through five.

''There was just no consistency with anything,'' Nolasco said. ''Obviously that loss is on me. I feel healthy and I feel good and that's all I can ask for.''

Nolasco has faced the Mariners just twice during his 11-year career, the last meeting coming in 2014. He lost both with a 4.50 ERA.

Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta combine to hit .429 against Nolasco. Cruz has homered twice in seven at-bats against him and Smith has also taken Nolasco deep.

Walker (2-4, 2.70) hasn't won since April 25, and Seattle's defense didn't provide him any favors in Monday's 5-0 loss to Oakland. The 23-year-old held the Athletics scoreless for six innings before giving up a leadoff homer in the seventh, then two Mariners errors led to four unearned runs in the eighth.

''It's baseball. It's going to happen,'' said Walker, who allowed only four hits and a walk in 7 1-3 innings. ''People are going to make errors. People are going to walk, get base hits."

Walker has lost four of his five starts in May with a 3.96 ERA. He has given up six home runs in his last four outings.

However, he was dominant in his lone career start against the Twins, a 6-1 victory July 31. Walker's only mistake in the complete-game effort was a home run by Miguel Sano. He matched a career high with 11 strikeouts while walking only one.

Sano leads Minnesota with 10 home runs and has gone deep in the last three games with six RBIs.

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