This week, because of the upcoming Mariners – Angels series at Safeco, Halo Hangout (FanSided’s Angels blog) blogger Nate Proctor was kind enough to invite me to take part in a little trade-off, series preview type thing. I sent him a few paragraphs, and he reciprocated. I’ll include both of our contributions here, though mine probably doesn’t include anything you guys don’t already know. You’re probably wondering why we’re associating with an Angels blogger – valid question. While most Angels blogs are nothing short of torture to read (Halo’s Heaven), Halo Hangout is one of the few exceptions – it’s sabermetrics oriented, and Nate does a real good job over there.
FYI, this is something we may very well continue to do, both with Nate Proctor, as well as other AL West bloggers. So, naturally, feedback is appreciated.
In the second matchup with Seattle in as many weeks, the pitching matchups take on a decidedly different look. Both teams avoid the other’s ace, as both Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver made starts on Thursday. The Angels, luckily, also get to avoid Cliff Lee, who utterly dominated them the first time around.
On their end, they send Saunders, Santana, and Pineiro to the mound in each of the three games, which gives them a fair chance to nab another series win from their AL West rivals. While Seattle has clearly been disappointing given their off-season acquisitions, the Angels rotation hasn’t exactly lived up to the team’s hopes, either. In Seattle, they face an offense that can occasionally test them, but isn’t overpowering like the Rangers or Yankees.
Saunders has broken up bad starts with the occasional solid start, but overall his season has been a disappointment. In his last start against Seattle he only lasted 4.1 innings and gave up 7 runs, making bookend 7-run starts in May. The start before that, he was able to hold them to 1 run over 5.2 innings, and I think this time around he ends up a bit in the middle of those. Ervin Santana had his worst start since April 13th last time he saw the Mariners, touched for 5 runs over 6.2 IP. Joel Pineiro hasn’t seen his old team yet this season, though his start against his other old team, St. Louis, was a disaster as Pineiro gave up 9 runs over only 3 IP.
I like the Santana-Fister matchup in game two, and think that is the Angels best shot for a win in this series. Outside of that, I expect a less than stellar start from one of Saunders and Pineiro, while the other holds his own and gives the Angels a chance to win. In the end, I think we’ll see a 2-1 series win for the Angels, despite the fact that their offense is bound to crash back to earth with Morales on the shelf. Every division series is important, but for two teams trying to claw their way into the fight for first between the Rangers and A’s, these games are huge.
The Mariners welcome the Angels to Safeco Field for a three game series on Friday night coming off an extremely successful home series against the Twins, in which they took 3 out of 4 games. Though the offense has struggled mightily so far this season due to poor roster construction, poor performances from guys like Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman, and Jose Lopez, and a whole lot of bad luck, things may finally be turning around for the Mariners’ hitters.
While Mike Sweeney, who was carrying this offense for a brief period of time, has rapidly cooled off, Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez have really started to heat up, providing a very noticeable boost to this offense. On top of the recent offensive resurgence, the team’s starting pitching has continued to stay strong. Cliff Lee is incredible, Felix Hernandez had a bit of a rough patch, but looks to be back on track, and two lesser known guys, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, have looked consistently solid all year, though in a much less sustainable way.
The Mariners are a team that, while still sporting a terrible 22-31 record, are very fortunate to be in the division that they’re in. The Angels have struggled, and neither the Rangers or A’s look like they’re capable of running away with this thing. In any other division in baseball, this team’s season would already be a lost cause, but at 6 games back in the AL West, they’re still hanging on by a thread.