The Los Angeles Angels want to avoid losing more ground in the American League wild-card race, while the host Seattle Mariners want to take another step toward staying in the chase when the teams meet Saturday. The Mariners snapped a three-game slide with a 4-3 victory in the opener of the three-game series as Los Angeles fell two games behind Minnesota for the second wild card.
Seattle is four games behind the Twins, and Friday’s victory was just its fourth in 12 contests. “I thought our guys were into it, loose and having a good time,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters afterward. “We’ve got nothing to lose, just go play.” Los Angeles has scored just four total runs while losing its last two games and Albert Pujols narrowly missed a tying homer in the ninth inning while playing with a bone bruise in his left knee. “It’s something that’s he’s been playing with. It’s something that we hope he can manage in the last 20-plus games and, hopefully, playoffs,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. “The thing about Albert is he works hard at maintenance that needs to be done.”
TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), ROOT Northwest (Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels LH Andrew Heaney (1-1, 6.98 ERA) vs. Mariners LHP Andrew Albers (3-1, 3.43)
Heaney has served up a startling 11 homers in just 19 1/3 innings over four starts this season. The 26-year-old returned from Tommy John surgery on Aug. 18 and has pitched more than five innings just once - during a six-inning performance against Oakland for his lone win on Aug. 28. Heaney is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners, with the win occurring at Safeco Field when he gave up five hits in seven scoreless frames on July 12, 2015.
Albers was sharp in his last turn as he defeated Oakland while allowing one run and one hit (a homer) in six innings. The 31-year-old journeyman received an opportunity with James Paxton and Felix Hernandez both on the disabled list and another strong outing could help him remain in the rotation when the duo returns. Albers has walked just one batter in three of his four starts for Seattle.
1. Angels CF Mike Trout recorded a double on Friday for his lone hit in 13 at-bats over his last four games and has yet to homer or drive in a run this month.
2. Paxton (40 pitches) and Hernandez (35) both pitched simulated games and could return to action next week.
3. Los Angeles INF Jefry Marte (fractured left foot) was placed on the 10-day disabled list.
PREDICTION: Mariners 4, Angels 3