GAME: Angels (55-70, 4th, AL West, -17.5 GB) at Mariners (58-67, 3rd, AL West, -14.5 GB). GAME #: 127. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 14th (Mariners lead 7-6). WHEN: Friday, 7:05 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Angels L 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
After what had to have been one of the scariest months of his life, Eric Wedge will return to the dugout Friday night when his Mariners open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Wedge suffered a minor stroke July 22 and has been convalescing since, apparently with enough success that his doctors have cleared his return.
Wedge catches the Mariners on an uptick. Under acting manager Robby Thompson, Seattle went 13-15 during Wedge’s absence, capped off by a 5-4 road trip through Tampa Bay, Texas and Oakland, all clubs in playoff contention.
“Great road trip. Proud of these guys,” Thompson said. “Obviously, all three of these teams are either in first or second place. They’ve been playing well all year long. Looking back on it, it could have been even a little better. We had a chance to win a couple more ballgames, but overall, playing the teams that we played on this tough road trip, we feel it was a great road trip.”
Felix Hernandez (12-6, 2.47) gets the ball to start the home stand. Hernandez is coming off a rough outing in Texas, where the Rangers roughed him up for five hits, five runs and five walks in 5.0 innings in a brutal 15-3 loss Saturday.
Texas has beaten Hernandez 19 times and the Angels are only slightly less of a nemesis. He’s 8-12 with a 3.97 ERA in 33 career starts against the Halos, who torched Felix for 12 hits and six earned runs over 5.0 innings in a road loss June 20.
Hernandez, though, will catch a reeling Angels ball club. L.A. has dropped nine of its past 11. The Angels were just swept at home by the Cleveland Indians.
The Mariners don’t have a lot to play for over the next month, but they do have an opportunity to finish in third place in the division ahead of the Angels.
“We’re playing a lot of playoff teams down the stretch — a lot of teams that are first or second in their division — and I think it’s big for us because we get to see how we stack up right next to them,” Mariners rookie Brad Miller told mlb.com. “Our goal is the same. We’re trying to win games and win series.”
The Mariners have captured their last two series and Friday will take a look at right-hander Garrett Richards, who will make his sixth start since rejoining L.A.’s starting five. Richards has improved from his early season form since returning to the rotation July 27, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He surrendered five runs and 12 hits, but whiffed seven his last time out against the Astros Saturday.
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (12-6, 2.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with the Mariners will make his 27th start and fourth against the Angels. The Mariners ace allowed five runs in five innings at Texas Saturday, equaling the number of earned runs he’d allowed in his previous six starts and 43 innings. He’s beaten the Angels twice this year, both times at Safeco Field.
- LAST START: Aug. 17 at Texas, lost 15-3; 5 earned runs on 5 hits in 5.0 innings; 4 strikeout, 5 walks, 0 home runs, 90 pitches, 52 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ANGELS: July 13 at Safeco Field, won 6-0; 0 earned runs on 7 hits in 8.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 109 pitches, 69 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ANGELS: 8-12, 3.97 ERA in 33 starts covering 226.2 innings; 191 strikeouts, 58 walks, 25 home runs, 1.284 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 56-38, 3.09 ERA in 131 starts covering 909.2 innings; 876 strikeouts, 245 walks, 70 home runs, 1.17 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Josh Hamilton (8-for-56, .143), Chris Iannetta (2-for-14, .143), Peter Bourjos (4-for-20, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Mike Trout (15-for-34, .441), Howie Kendrick (19-for-65, .292), Mark Trumbo (10-for-36, .278).
- CURRENT ANGELS VS. HERNANDEZ: 81-for-330, .245 BA, 73 strikeouts, 19 walks, 9 home runs, .288 on-base percentage.
ANGELS: RHP Garrett Richards (3-5, 4.24 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
The 25-year-old Richards, a Riverside, CA., native in his third major league season, all with the Angels, will make his 10th start and second against the Mariners. Used mostly in relief this season, Richards joined the rotation July 27 and has one win, one loss and three no-decisions since, including one in his last start Aug. 17 vs. the Houston Astros.
- LAST START: Aug. 17 vs. Houston, took a no-decision in the Angels’ 6-5 victory; 5 earned runs on 12 hits in 6.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 91 pitches, 61 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: June 18, lost 3-2; 1 earned run on 2 hits in 1.0 innings of relief; 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 23 pitches, 14 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-2, 4.56 ERA in 10 games, including 2 starts, covering 25.2 innings; 27 pitches, 9 walks, 4 home runs, 1.44 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-1, 5.25 ERA in 4 games, including 1 start, covering 12.0 innings; 11 strikeouts, 3 walks, 3 home runs, 1.41 WHIP.
- LOVE TO FACE: Brendan Ryan (0-for-8, .000), Justin Smoak (1-for-11, .091).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Saunders (4-for-8, .500), Endy Chavez (3-for-7, .429), Raul Ibanez (2-for-5, .400).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. GRIFFIN: 22-for-74, .209 BA, 17 strikeouts, 7 walks, 4 home runs, .354 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. L.A. Angels (Friday-Sunday), three vs. Texas (Monday-Wednesday). The home stand begins a series of 20 games in 20 days. Following the home stand, the Mariners play four at Houston and four at Kansas City before returning to Safeco Field Sept. 6. The Mariners do not have a day off until Sept. 12.
- The Mariners are hopeful that second baseman Nick Franklin will return to the lineup Friday night. Franklin suffered a lacerated knee in a home-plate collision Tuesday that required five stitches.
- Franklin’s homer in Tuesday’s victory was his 11th in his first 68 games, tying Ken Griffey Jr. for third most in franchise history by a rookie. Although he didn’t join the Mariners until May 27, Franklin leads all American League rookies in homers.
- Brendan Ryan’s two-run double in the sixth inning Thursday was his first extra-base hit since July 10 when he homered against the Red Sox.
|8/23||Fri||vs. LAA||RHP Felix Hernandez (12-6) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (3-5)|
|8/24||Sat||vs. LAA||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-0) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (6-5)|
|8/25||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (7-7)|
|8/26||Mon||vs. Tex||LHP Joe Saunders (10-12) vs. LHP Travis Blackley (1-1)|
|8/27||Tue||vs. Tex||TBA vs. LHP Derek Holland (9-6)|
It’s nice to contemplate the LAAofA starting next season with a payroll already $80-$90MM higher than the Ms and with more holes to fill than a gopher ranch.
Eric Wedge suffered a terrible health crisis… and survived. I wish him well and it will interesting to note if he has a different perspective about success and failure at the ballpark and I bet the team responds to his returning to the dugout.