GAME: Angels (9-14, 3rd, AL West, -6.5 GB) at Mariners (10-16, 4th, AL West, -7.0 GB). GAME #: 27. SERIES: 4th of 4 games. MEETING: 4th (Mariners lead 2-1). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Angels L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners opened their 37th season with a two-game winning streak (at Oakland), and have had multiple opportunities since to put together another one. But in a tooth pull worthy of W.C. Fields’ classic skit “The Dentist,” the Mariners haven’t been able to get it done. Sunday might be the day.
After riding another gem by Felix Hernandez to a 3-2 victory over the LA Angels Saturday night, the Mariners can record their second consecutive win Sunday when they and the Halos close out a four-game series at Safeco Field. If the Mariners win, they will also notch their first series victory of the season.
A whole month without so much as one series win is pretty abysmal, and the Mariners would seem to have a nice rectifier available. Good as Hernandez was Saturday, and over his past three, Hisashi Iwakuma has been Seattle’s most consistent starter so far. He also has an intriguing matchup lurking, opposite the Mariners’ leading winner from 2012.
After Jason Vargas won 14 times last season, the Mariners were in such dire need of offense that they traded him to the division rival Angels for Kendrys Morales, who delivered what proved to be the winning hit Saturday.
Vargas hasn’t exactly flourished since the swap, a victim, in part, of his new team’s struggles. He has yet to post his first win for LA, has a 5.82 ERA and has surrendered 34 hits in 24.2 innings.
Vargas has never pitched against his former team (not even when he was with Florida), but he has faced Morales, who is 5-for-12 (.417) against him, another reason the Mariners have a shot at the hugely elusive two wins in a row.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1, 1.99 ERA, 0.72 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his sixth start and first against the Angels. Iwakuma, who has been bothered by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, has been Seattle’s most effective starter in spite of the injury, sporting a 1.99 ERA and major league-leading 0.72 WHIP. He is coming off his first loss of the season despite allowing just two earned runs while striking out 11.
- LAST START: April 23 at Houston, lost 3-2; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.0 innings; 11 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 93 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ANGELS: Oct. 2, 2012, won 6-1 at Safeco Field; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 105 pitches, 72 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ANGELS: 4-0, 1.23 ERA in 5 games, including 4 starts, covering 29.1 innings; 22 strikeouts to 3 walks, 1 home run, 0.95 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 7-3, 2.23 ERA in 19 games, including 12 starts, covering 88.2 innings; 75 strikeouts, 28 walks, 9 home runs, 1.10 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Alberto Callaspo (1-for-10, .100), Albert Pujols (2-for-13, .154), Mike Trout (2-for-12, .167), Howie Kendrick (2-for-11, .182), Erick Aybar (2-for-10, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Chris Iannetta (3-for-7, .429), Josh Hamilton (2-for-6, .333), Mark Trumbo (2-for-7, .286).
- CURRENT ANGELS VS. IWAKUMA: 17-for-84, .202 BA, 18 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, .239 on-base percentage.
ANGELS: LHP Jason Vargas (0-2, 5.82 ERA, 2.03 WHIP)
The 30-year-old Vargas, an Apple Valley, CA., native in his eighth major league season and first with the Angels, will make his fifth start and first against the Mariners, for whom he pitched from 2009-12 before a trade for Kendrys Morales sent him to Anaheim. Vargas has gotten off to a less-than ideal start with his new club, having allowed 14 earned runs on 34 hits in just 21.2 innings.
- LAST START: April 23, took a no-decision in a 5-4 victory over Texas; 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 109 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 21-20, 3.38 ERA in 59 games, including 55 starts, covering 361.2 innings; 247 strikeouts, 95 walks, 34 home runs, 1.16 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Raul Ibanez (0-for-3, .000), Jesus Montero (0-for-2, .000), Jason Bay (1-for-5, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Endy Chavez (2-for-4, .500), Kendrys Morales (5-for-12, .417), Kelly Shoppach (4-for-11, .462), Robert Andino (3-for-1o, .300).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. VARGAS: 18-for-57, .316 BA, 12 strikeouts, 3 walks, 3 home runs, .361 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Four vs. L.A. Angels (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. the Baltimore Orioles (Monday-Wednesday). Following a day off Thursday the Mariners will play three at Toronto (May 3-5) and two at Pittsburgh (May 7-8).
- Kyle Seager’s hitting streak stands at a major-league high 16 games, the longest of is career. Seager went 1-for-3 and is batting. 390 during the streak.
- Felix Hernandez, a 3-2 winner over the Angels Saturday, has allowed two runs in his last 22 innings and struck out 28 over his past three outings. His victory Saturday marked his first win at Safeco Field this season and was his first against the Angels since Sept. 6, 2011.
- Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has seven saves in seven opportunities.
- Endy Chavez, who went 2-for-4 Saturday, has four multi-hit game since his recall from AAA Tacoma.
- The Mariners went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position Saturday and stranded 11 men.
- In the Mariners’ 10 victories, they are batting .329 (27-for-82) with runners in scoring position. In 16 losses, the Mariners are batting .114 (12-for-105) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP eight times in 26 games.
- OF Michael Saunders joined AAA Tacoma Friday for a rehab assignment. He could rejoin the Mariners as early as Monday.
- Mariners prospect Abe Almonte hit for the cycle Saturday night for AA Jackson. He’s the second Seattle minor-leaguer to hit for the cycle in the last two weeks, joining Carlos Trunifel, who did it for AAA Tacoma April 17.
- The Mariners are winding up a stretch of 16 games in 16 days. After playing three vs. Baltimore, the Mariners are off Thursday, just the second of the regular season.
|4/28||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (0-2)|
|4/29||Mon||vs. Bal||LHP Joe Saunders (1-3) vs. LHP Zach Britton (0-0)|
|4/30||Tue||vs. Bal||RHP Brandon Maurer (2-3) vs. RHP Jason Hammell (3-1)|
|5/1||Wed||vs. Bal||RHP Aaron Harang (0-3) LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-2)|