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Felix shuts down the Twins for his third win

The Mariners will begin a 10-game, four-city road trip on Friday night when they head to Yankee Stadium for the first of three against the Yankees.

Seattle has won back-to-back series since dropping a season-high seven straight games and will hand the ball to ace Felix Hernandez for Friday's game.

Hernandez has been dominant; he entered Thursday leading the Majors with 51 strikeouts and has allowed just four runs over his past five starts, a span of 38 innings.

"That's just vintage Felix, if you ask me," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said following Hernandez's last start, a one-hit, eight-inning masterpiece against the Twins. "The way he moved his fastball around, he was dropping his breaking ball, slider, using that changeup effectively. He had a tremendous feel -- just mixing his pitches and doing a good job of working ahead, for the most part."

The Yankees will counter with Hiroki Kuroda, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his most recent start and fell to 2-4 on the season after losing to the Royals.

Kuroda, 37, expects more of himself after surpassing 200 innings for the first time in his big league career last year with the Dodgers.

"My role as a starter is to go as deep as I can into the game, and at least I wanted to go seven," Kuroda said through a translator following his last start. "But I couldn't do that, so it was really frustrating."

Kuroda has faced the Mariners just once and lost, while Hernandez is 6-4 with a 3.29 ERA against the Yankees over 11 career starts.

Friday's matchup will be the first of three series between the clubs this season. New York went 5-4 against Seattle in 2011.

Mariners: Seager, Jaso on fire
• Kyle Seager and John Jaso have been providing Seattle with plenty of offensive punch.

Over his last 14 games, Seager is hitting .347 (17-for-49) with five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs. Entering Wednesday's contest, Seager was tied for the third-most doubles in the AL since Aug. 23, 2011, with 22, and he added another on Wednesday, driving in his team-leading 20th run.

Jaso, meanwhile, has hit safely in nine of his 10 starts this season, including his last seven. In games he's started, he's batting .306 with seven RBIs, and he has an .866 OPS on the season.

The backstop batted out of the leadoff spot in Wednesday's game, becoming just the second catcher in franchise history to do so and the first since Bob Stinson in 1978. It was the 52nd time that Jaso had led off.

• Jesus Montero will make his return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since headlining a deal that sent Michael Pineda to the Bronx in the offseason.

The 22-year-old Montero is batting .268 with four homers and 16 RBIs and entered Thursday leading all AL rookies in hits (30) and was tied for the lead in runs scored (10) and doubles (six).

Montero hit .328 with four homers and a .996 OPS over 18 games with the Yankees in 2011.

Mariners right-hander Hector Noesi, who was also involved in the deal, is scheduled to start on Saturday and had a 4.47 ERA over 30 appearances -- two starts -- with the Yankees in 2011, his rookie season.

Yankees: Setback for Gardner
• Outfielder Brett Gardner experienced a setback in his rehabilitation from a right elbow injury, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after Thursday's 5-3 win over the Rays.

A second MRI exam revealed that Gardner, who was expected to rejoin the club on Thursday night, further strained a muscle in his elbow and as a result, he won't swing a bat for another 10 days or more. Gardner was placed on the DL on April 18 after injuring himself while making a diving catch.

"The muscle that he strained, that healed," Girardi said. "He re-strained it, is basically what it is. We are going to go without Gardy for a while here. It's very unfortunate."

• Right-hander David Robertson struggled on Wednesday night, taking a loss and a blown save while allowing his first runs of the season. Rafael Soriano got the call in the ninth on Thursday night and nailed down his first save of the season, but he did allow one run.

After losing Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee last week, the Yankees have seen Robertson and Soriano convert two of the club's three save chances.

Worth noting
• In 53 career at-bats against Hernandez, Mark Teixeira is hitting .321 with five homers and eight walks. Robinson Cano also hits Seattle's ace well, with 11 hits -- including two homers -- in 31 at-bats.

• The Mariners haven't won a season series against the Yankees since they took five out of nine in 2002. Six of the clubs' nine meetings this year will come in the Bronx.

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