GAME: Angels (44-48, 3rd, AL West, -10.0 GB) at Mariners (42-52, 4th, AL West, -13.0 GB). GAME #: 95. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 13th (series tied 6-6). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Angels L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners reach the end of the first half Sunday when they wrap up a three-game series against the L.A. Angels at Safeco Field. If the Mariners have shown any improvement over last year through their first 95 games, it’s their ability to deliver home runs — a lot of them by recent Seattle standards.
After Justin Smoak’s three-run blast Saturday night, they have hit 114 (24 by Raul Ibanez), a total that not only ranks third in the American League, but is 35 shy of their 2012 full-season total of 149. More impressive is the progress: Two years ago, 2011, the Mariners hit 109 home runs all season.
The Mariners will enter the series finale with a streak of 21 consecutive games cranking at least one long ball, a franchise record, topping the 19-game streak assembled by the Ken Griffey Jr.-Edgar Martinez-Alex Rodriguez-Jay Buhner Mariners from Sept. 7-27, 1999.
They will also enter having scored 44 runs with 10 home runs in the first six games of the home stand, all good news for Hisashi Iwakuma, who can use all the help he can get. After a tremendous start — 7-1 record, 1.79 ERA — Iwakuma is 0-3, 6.83 over his last five outings and has allowed 10 home runs in his last four. In his most recent, he lasted a season-low 3.0 innings against the Red Sox.
Fortunately for Iwakuma, he’ll oppose Joe Blanton, who has paid the most for L.A.’s disappointing season. Blanton is 2-11, 5.40 and has surrendered 143 hits in 108.1 innings. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 20th start and second against the Angels. The first-time All-Star has struggled lately, and has been particularly vulnerable to the long ball. He has allowed 10 in his last four starts after giving up up one in five previous starts. Iwakuma, though, still has a tremendous strikeouts-to-walk ratio, 106-18.
- LAST START: July 9 vs. Boston, lost 11-8; 6 earned runs on 8 hits in a season-low 3.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 3 home runs, 61 pitches, 44 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ANGELS: April 28 at Safeco Field, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 2-1 win; 0 earned runs on 3 hits over 6.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 92 pitches, 66 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ANGELS: 4-0, 1.02 ERA in six games, including 5 starts, covering 35.1 innings; 30 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 0.87 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 9-4, 2.52 ERA in 27 games, including 20 starts, covering 142.2 innings; 127 strikeouts, 29 walks, 18 home runs, 0.96 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Alberto Callaspo (1-for-10, .100), Mike Trout (2-for-15, .133), Erick Aybar (2-for-10, .200), Josh Hamilton (2-for-9, .222).
- HATES TO FACE: Andrew Romine (2-for-4, .500), Chris Iannetta (3-for-9, .333).
- CURRENT ANGELS VS. IWAKUMA: 20-for-105, .190 BA, 26 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, .220 on-base percentage.
ANGELS: RHP Joe Blanton (2-11, 5.40 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Blanton, a Bowling Green, KY., native in his 10th major league season and first with the Angels, will make his 19th start and third against the Mariners. Blanton had quality starts in six of his previous eight outings before surrendering four home runs in five-plus innings against the Cubs Tuesday at Wrigley Field. He has allowed 143 hits in 108.1 innings and is 0-1 with a no-decision against Seattle.
- LAST START: July 9 at Chicago Cubs, lost 7-2; 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 5.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4 home runs, 92 pitches, 56 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: June 18 at Anaheim, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 3-2 win; 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings; 11 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 home runs, 118 pitches, 77 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 8-6, 3.50 ERA in 17 starts covering 115.2 innings; 67 strikeouts, 20 walks, 11 home runs, 1.23 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 5-1, 3.13 ERA in 7 starts covering 46.0 innings; 29 strikeouts, 10 walks, 4 home runs, 1.26 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (0-for-6, .000), Jason Bay (0-for-5, .000), Kyle Seager (1-for-6, .167), Justin Smoak (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Endy Chavez (5-for-16, .400), Michael Morse (4-flor-14, .286).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. BLANTON: 37-for-134, .276 BA, 32 strikeouts, 10 walks, 4 home runs, .326 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Four vs. Boston (Monday-Thursday), three vs. the Los Angeles Angels (Friday-Sunday).
- Following the break, the Mariners will play a three-game series at Houston July 19-21 before returning to Safeco Field for a seven-game home stand featuring Cleveland and Minnesota.
- Felix Hernandez, who improved to 10-4 Friday by pitching 8.0 shutout innings, has 15 quality starts this season. This is the first time in his career that Hernandez has won 10 games before the All-Star break. Saturday’s game marked the second time this season that Hernandez has not allowed a run in 8.0 innings.
- The four RBIs by Justin Smoak Saturday are a season high. He had his career high of six RBIs May 30, 2012 against Texas.
- Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 13 Saturday night. He’s hitting .449 during it.
- Michael Saunders, who had two hits Saturday, is working on a six-game hitting streak, as is Kendrys Morales.
|7/14||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (2-11)|