Kevin Slowey came into the dugout after Seattle's three-run fourth inning and said to Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson: "I'm back to where I was two years ago. I know what pitch to make and won't make it."

Anderson put a hand on Slowey's shoulder and said: "You know what the problem is? You feel too good. You want to overwhelm the hitters instead of doing what you do best, which is just making good pitches and getting outs."

Slowey overcame a strained biceps muscle that cost him most of April last season. He returned to the Twins' rotation in May. He made 26 starts after that, and earned as much confidence with Twins followers as any starter, including Scott Baker.

As a 24-year-old, he finished 12-11 with a 3.99 ERA. The eye-catching statistic was 24 walks compared to 123 strikeouts.

Slowey arrived this February for the never-ending spring training of 2009. He was the best pitcher in camp. In six starts, he was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA. And the walks and strikeouts were three compared to 22 in 25 1/3 innings.

"Everything I did right and worked on in spring training, I did the opposite tonight," Slowey said. "I would get to 0-2, 1-2, and instead of making a good pitch, I tried to make a great pitch. That's how I got in trouble."

Slowey went through a 1-2-3 first, striking out Ken Griffey Jr. to end the half-inning

Then Justin Morneau unloaded a two-run home run into the upper deck in the bottom of the first. Carlos Silva was the Seattle pitcher, and watching a ball travel to the Metrodome's far regions was not a new experience for Señor Sinker.

Slowey admitted that seeing Morneau's blastoff might have gotten him overamped.

"Our hitters are up there trying so hard to do the job for us," Slowey said. "Justin hits a blast like that ... you want to get out there and have a quick inning, so our guys can hit some more."

The righthander showed his excitement level when he tried to throw a changeup to Adrian Beltre, who led off in the second inning.

"My body was way ahead of my arm, and the ball floated up there," Slowey said. "Usually, you get away with a pitch like that, because it's so bad, so high, they aren't going to swing. But Adrian ripped it."

Beltre doubled inside the left-field line. Russell Branyan, a lefthander with a swing conducive to tape-measure home runs and strikeouts, was next. He hit a shot toward the Teflon sky that soared over the center-field fence.

"I appreciate [center fielder] Carlos Gomez going back there and taking a look, but Superman wasn't going to catch that ball," Slowey said.

Denard Span gave the lead back to Slowey with a two-run home run in the second. Slowey got a double-play ball from Beltre to hold the 4-2 lead through the third, then came unglued during the Mariners' three-run fourth.

The mess started when Slowey threw Jose Lopez a cookie and the second baseman mashed it into the left-field seats. This home run was accompanied by a trademark Slowey Head Hang -- the instantaneous reaction of agony he displays when he knows from the sound of the bat a ball is gone.

Slowey was so discombobulated before the fourth was over that manager Ron Gardenhire ordered lefthander Brian Duensing to start warming for a possible major league debut.

One hitter from being gone, Slowey popped out Franklin Gutierrez to end the fourth. He went to the dugout, beat himself up, heard the message from Anderson to get back to worrying about outs, not style points, and retired the next six batters.

That allowed Slowey to finish six innings with 100 pitches (72 strikes). He also got a 6-5 victory thanks to the Twins' two-run fifth, and then one scoreless inning apiece from Craig Breslow, Jesse Crain and Joe Nathan.

"First start of the season, so it's not a surprise Slowey was overexcited," Anderson said. "But those last two innings -- that was him, six outs on not many pitches. I anticipate we're going to see a lot more of that than what we saw in the early innings.

"The great thing about this kid ... when he struggles, he knows what he's doing wrong. He knows that if he slows down and makes his pitches, he's going to be fine."

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP.