Seattle Mariners Series Preview: at LA Angels
By Matt Seto
After a disappointing home series against the Oakland A’s, the Mariners are off to face yet another AL West rival this week. If last weekend’s series was important, then this one is a must-win. I had hoped to be writing this preview from the drivers seat in the wild card race, but it seems that the Mariners continue to be on the outside looking in.
The Mariners have only 14 games left in the 2014 season, including 7 against the Angels, and 4 against the Blue Jays, who have played their way back into Wild Card contention. It’s going to be a rough few weeks for the M’s, with one of the hardest schedules to close the season, but as of yet there’s no reason to think it isn’t possible. Getting off to a good start in LA is going to be clutch. Here’s your Mariners series preview for this week’s four gamer against the Angels.
Game one: Hisashi Iwakuma (14-7, 3.11 ERA) v. Matt Shoemaker (15-4, 3.16 ERA)
Iwakuma laid a pretty big egg in his last start against the Astros, He walked 2 batters that game, only the 4th time this season he’s walked more than one batter. Kuma hasn’t had a quality start since August 19th against the Phillies, since then he’s sporting a 7.50 ERA and oppBA of .312 over 4 games.
Rookie Matt Shoemaker is having the debut of a lifetime in LA this season. This start he will be in search of his 7th straight win (including one where he pitched relief in a 19 inning marathon), as he hasn’t taken a loss since August 9th. Over those 7 games he has a 1.32 ERA, and opponents are hitting only .174.
Game two: Roenis Elias (10-12, 3.81 ERA) v. Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.80 ERA)
Elias hopped off the loss-train with a win against the Rangers 2 weeks ago, his last start against the Astros was good enough to win, but as the Mariners run-drought continued he took a no-decision in the 2-1 loss.
After spending the majority of the season in the bullpen, Rasmus is making his fourth straight start to cover for Garrett Richards. As a starter, Rasmus hasn’t yet made it out of the third inning, and hasn’t faced more than 12 batters all season.
Game three: James Paxton (6-2, 1.83 ERA) v. C.J. Wilson (12-9, 4.61 ERA)
Paxton threw a great game on Friday against the A’s as the Mariners took their lone win of that series. Allowing only 2 runs on 4 hits, Paxton topped 100 pitches for only the second time this season. He faced the Angels twice before his injury this season, winning both games.
Don’t let his inflated ERA fool you, Wilson has been decent in the Angels rotation this season. Wilson generally throws 100+ pitches over only 6 innings, so expect this to be a bit of a hit festival.
Game four: Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.14 ERA) v. Jered Weaver (17-8, 3.50 ERA)
Felix took a disappointing no-decision in his last Night Court start. He certainly pitched well enough for the win going 7.0 and allowing only 2 runs, but this was the 9th time this season that the Mariners have stranded him with 2 or fewer runs.
On the other side of this pitching duel, Jered Weaver is searching for a third straight win. This is his third start against the M’s this season, but he’s got a 1-1 record against them. Weaver s coming off of a 12 strikeout game against the Astros, setting a new season-high.
- After this weekend’s 4 walk effort, we all want to ride the Rodney-hate-train right now. But at the same time Fernando Rodney has tied the Mariners single season saves record at 45. More importantly, he’s leading the MLB in saves, something a Mariner has never done.
- The Mariners scoring woes are back, as the M’s have scored only 9 runs in their last 5 games, where they are 1-4.
- The Angels are leading the MLB in runs scored, at bats, and RBIs this season, making them a dangerous team at the plate. While the Mariners still lead the majors with a 3.00 ERA, this run scoring drought needs to stop now.
- Dustin Ackley made a brief appearance on Friday against the A’s after missing a week with aggravated bone spurs in his ankle. But he was pulled from that game in the 8th and hasn’t been back since.
- Getting back in the home run column, Robinson Cano had two over the weekend, bringing his season tally to 14. It’s a far cry from Kyle Seager (23) and Mike Zunino (20), but his .321/.388/.466 triple-slash makes up for it.
- The Angles will clinch a playoff birth with only 4 more wins, so they are obviously looking for the sweep this week.
- That low magic number is thanks in part to their recent 10-game winning streak. The Angels are 10-3 in September.
Wild Card Roundup
Things are tight, and that last series loss for the Mariners came at a poor time. The M’s are now sitting 2.5 games back of the A’s for that first Wild Card spot, and a full game back of the Royals for the second one. At the very least it looks like the Royals are on a downswing after tearing it up in August (they’re 4-6 in their last 10).
With only 2 weeks left in the season the M’s need to get things figured out fast. Here’s what everyone else is up to this week:
- Oakland is closing the season with a soft schedule, as they’re hosting the Rangers this week. This represents a good chance for them to pad their lead for that wild card spot, as the A’s are 7-5 against the Rangers on the season.
- KC is at home against their AL Central rival White Sox for a three-game set. KC is in need of a Tigers series loss against the Twins in order to take over the top spot in the Central again.
- The Blue Jays kick off their tough September schedule with a series in Baltimore this week. The Orioles are 46-29 at home this season and these are some important games for the Jays, who already have a pretty slim chance at making the playoffs.
- The Yankees are playing the Rays for the second time in September, after winning the last series at home. At 5.0 games back, the Yankees need nothing short of a miracle.
|Toronto Blue Jays||4.0|