Saunders misses sixth straight as M’s close out trip

Michael Saunders had hoped to get back into the lineup at some point during this series in Minneapolis, but the Mariners outfielder was sidelined again Thursday as Seattle closed out its four-game set with the Twins.

Saunders has been out with a strained right groin muscle since a ninth-inning collision with Eric Thames in the outfield in Friday’s 9-8 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Manager Eric Wedge said Saunders is very close to being ready, but the team will give him one more day to make sure he’s 100 percent to go Friday when the Mariners return home to face the Angels.

“We just feel like he needs a day of rest, he’s been pushing so hard to come back,” Wedge said. “The best opportunity for him to play in the outfield tomorrow and play an entire game would be to give him some time today. We plan on him being in the outfield tomorrow.”

Franklin Gutierrez was back in center field for Thursday’s 10:10 a.m. PT getaway game after sitting out Wednesday’s 10-0 loss to rest his legs as he eases his way back from a two-month absence.

The Mariners are eager to put that clunker behind them. They haven’t had many of those this season, but it happens in baseball. The club can still win the series, which would make nine of 13 series wins, and they’ve already clinched their second straight winning month. That hasn’t happened since the end of 2009, so this is indeed a good run.

Seattle finishes up its seven-game road trip today and then heads home for a nine-game homestand with teh Angels, Red Sox and A’s.

Here is Seattle’s full lineup against Twins lefty Brian Duensing (3-9, 5.28 ERA):

Dustin Ackley 2B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero C
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo DH
Trayvon Robinson LF
Eric Thames RF
Brendan Ryan SS

Blake Beavan RHP

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