Losers of four in a row after getting swept in Baltimore, the Mariners have Thursday off, then open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Friday night in Anaheim. One of the more intriguing players in the series figures to be Mike Trout, the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
The last time the Mariners saw Trout, if they even remember seeing him, was June 6. Trout had been in the big leagues slightly more than a month — April 28 — which Angels fans now call “Trout Day.” No wonder: Trout today leads the AL with a .345 batting average, 36 stolen bases and 87 runs. Tuesday, he became the youngest player in history to hit 20 homers and steal at least 30 bases by homering on his 21st birthday.
Selected with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft, Trout could become the first player to hit at least .340 with 20 homers and 40 steals.
Trout already is one of three Angels all-time with at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season (Bobby Bonds, 31 HR/41 SB in 1977; Devon White 24 HR/32 SB in 1987).
“It’s been pretty surreal,” said Trout, who began the season with AAA Salt Lake City, where he hit .403 in 20 games. “The whole season has been a whirlwind for me. It’s cool what’s happening, but it probably won’t really hit me until the off-season.”
Felix Hernandez will be the first Mariners pitcher to get a good look at Trout when he takes the mound Friday. Hernandez will be followed by Hisashi Iwakuma Saturday and Jason Vargas Sunday. A closer look at the weekend’s Seattle-Los Angeles pitching matchups.
FRIDAY: RHP Felix Hernandez (10-5, 2.63) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (5-10, 5.83)
Hernandez: Over his past 10 starts, Hernandez is 6-0 with a 1.41 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 76.1 innings, including a two-hit shutout of the Yankees Saturday. His six-game win streak is tied for the third longest in his career. Vs. Angels (2012): 0-1, 7.50 ERA in one start covering 6.0 innings. Career: 6-10, 3.80 ERA in 26 starts covering 180.0 innings.
Santana: Santana made progress in his last outing against the White Sox. He went 6.0 innings just one start after being held to a 15-out limit, giving up three runs. It was enough to ensure that his next turn in the rotation wouldn’t be skipped. Santana is 1-1, 7.82 with six strikeouts over past three starts. Vs. Mariners (2012): 0-1, 10.24 in two starts covering 9.2 innings. Career: 11-7, 3.93 in 27 starts covering 171.2 innings.
SATURDAY: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-3, 4.20) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-8, 4.44)
Iwakuma: The 31-year-old is 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts since moving into the rotation. He’s improved steadily since moving out of a relief role, but lost to the Yankees in his last outing after surrendering four runs (three earned) in 5.0 innings. Vs. Angels (2012): 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 3.0 innings of relief. Career: Same as 2012.
Haren: Haren has been consistent recently, throwing six innings in each of his last three starts despite missing one outing due to back stiffness. His back has improved, and the right-hander allowed one run his last time out against the White Sox. Haren is 2-0, 2.00 with 13 K’s over past three starts. Vs. Mariners (2012): 1-0, 0.00 ERA in one start covering 9.0 innings. Career: 11-5, 2.43 ERA in 20 starts covering 137.0 innings.
SUNDAY: LHP Jason Vargas (12-8, 3.69) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (15-1, 2.13)
Vargas: The 29-year-old lefty recorded his eighth straight quality start Monday, but saw his five-game win streak snapped in a 3-1 complete-game loss at Baltimore. Vargas is having his best season and was AL Pitcher of the Month in July. Vs. Angels (2010): 1-1, 4.97 ERA in four starts covering 25.1 innings. Career: 4-4, 2.82 ERA in five games, including four starts, covering 76.2 innings.
Weaver: Weaver has been lights out all season, and he showed that again in his last start. With the team’s bullpen needing a break, the right-hander delivered with a complete-game shutout against the A’s. Vs. Mariners (2012): First start. Career: 12-4, 3.08 ERA in 22 starts covering 146.1 innings.
NOTES: The Mariners have lost four in a row and are 1-5 on the nine-game road trip following an 8-2 home stand . . . Mariners have scored just 16 runs on the trip . . . Michael Saunders went 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts during the Baltimore series and is 1-for-20 on the trip . . . The Mariners expect to have SS Brendan Ryan back for the Anaheim series. Ryan has been nursing a sore elbow . . . Angels lead the 2012 series with the Mariners 5-2 and have won six of the last eight games vs. Seattle . . . Angels are 32-15 against Seattle since 2009 . . . L.A.’s 69 victories (69-33) against Seattle since 2007 are the most any any team in MLB vs. one club . . . Angels are 21-6 in their last 27 home games vs. Seattle . . . Last time the teams met (May 24-27) at Safeco, the Angels completed their first four-game sweep in Seattle since April 25-28, 1985 . . . LHP Charlie Furbush gave up two hits — including a home run — and two runs in his third rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma Wednesday as he works his way back from a strained bicep. Furbush will likely get at least one more rehab stint with the Rainiers while the Mariners are on the road this weekend in Anaheim . . . Hector Noesi, who spent the first half of the season in the Mariners rotation before being demoted to AAA Tacoma, is 0-4 with a 7.24 ERA since joining the Rainiers . . . Due to conflicts with Seahawks football coverage, six Mariners games — including this Saturday’s contest at Anaheim — will be broadcast on KTTH 770-AM instead of 710 ESPN Seattle. The other five games are Aug. 18 and 24 and Sept. 9, 16 and 30.