(Updated: UPDATES Angels standing in the fifth sentence.)
Recent acquisition Mike Leake provided a huge boost to an injury-depleted pitching staff in his debut with Seattle and the Mariners will be hoping for a repeat performance when they host the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set. Seattle has lost three straight and eight of 11 to fall back in the wild-card chase.
The Mariners’ slide continued when they were swept at home in a three-game set by Houston, dropping them to the back of the pack among the eight teams pursuing the two American League wild cards. Kyle Seager has homered in three consecutive games for Seattle, which also was swept at home in a four-game set against the Angels last month. Los Angeles, which is one game behind Minnesota for the second wild card, split the first six contests of its current nine-game road trip after taking two of three in Oakland. Designated hitter Albert Pujols, who has 14 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak, flew back to Los Angeles for treatment on his sore left knee but is expected to be in the lineup for the series opener.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), ROOT Northwest (Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Ricky Nolasco (6-12, 5.08 ERA) vs. vs. Mariners RH Mike Leake (8-12, 4.14)
Despite his double-digit losses, Nolasco is unbeaten over his last seven starts after picking up his third straight no-decision last time out, giving up three runs in 5 2/3 innings at Texas. He will be making his fifth start of the season against the Mariners after posting a 1-0 mark and 4.07 ERA in the first four. Nelson Cruz has been a nightmarish matchup for Nolasco, going 11-for-25 with four homers.
Leake, imported from St. Louis in a trade, ended a winless drought dating to July 24 when he limited Oakland to two runs over seven innings while striking out season high-tying seven. Owner of a 1.91 ERA through his first nine starts, he was tagged for 23 runs and 34 hits in his last four turns with the Cardinals. Andrelton Simmons is 7-for-16 and Justin Upton 7-for-17 against Leake.
1. Angels CF Mike Trout has walked in 14 consecutive games, setting a franchise record.
2. Mariners RF Mitch Haniger is 13-for-29 over his past seven games.
3. Angels 1B C.J. Cron has four homers and 15 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Angels 5, Mariners 4