Mandatory Credit: Gary A.Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
“Mathematically alive” is not the phrase Seattle wants to hear right about now. Yet here they stand, hindered with a 2.4 percent playoff probability ahead of their season-ending series with the Angels. A single loss- or Oakland victory- stunts their glimmer of hope for a 13th straight year, a stretch that’s led to seven last-place finishes.
Los Angeles’ path to October isn’t as murky. It hasn’t been since bringing the AL West title back to Anaheim last Wednesday, and seldom was until 2009.
A win guarantees the Angels home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Barring an early exit, it means the first ALCS Game 1 at Angel Stadium in six years. In that time, the only constants in the Angels’ lineup have been Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick hasn’t been this healthy in years. He’s starter over 150 games largely because he finally avoided the 15-day disabled list for a full season. Kendrick and Aybar are on the brink of career-highs in hits, RBIs, and walks, proving- if anything- that the league’s most dependable infield plays in Anaheim.
The Mariners are one of four teams with a winning record against the Halos this season. They swept an opening-season series where Angels’ hitters averaged 2.6 runs per game. Seattle may not have it as easy this time around. Especially when facing the league leader in RBIs and runs scored.
Right-hander Jered Weaver was scheduled to start against Seattle last Thursday got a late scratch following the Angels’ division-clinching victory. More importantly, it put Weaver in line to start ALDS Game 1 on normal rest.
The three-time All-Star hasn’t reached 19 wins since finishing third in AL Cy Young award voting two years ago. Weaver hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since Aug. 8 and lost just one decision since.
A lack of velocity is a non-factor, or at least one not worrying about. His 7.1 strikeouts per nine inning ratio is the highest in four years, as are 164 strikeouts. Weaver proved as much in making 12 Houston Astros whiff on Sept. 13 before striking out seven Texas Rangers a week later.
Weaver is 14-9 with a 3.29 against the Mariners, most recently limiting them to two runs on six hits on July 18.
Hisashi Iwakuma is looking to break a three-start losing streak where he hasn’t lasted past the fifth inning. The Japanese righty opened Seattle’s abysmal road trip by allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings at Angel Stadium after posting a 5-0 record and 1.75 ERA in seven previous starts against the Angels.
A four-run performance in Houston followed where he gave up six hits and three walks on just 88 pitches. Now, Iwakuma is tasked with keeping the Mariners’ playoff hopes alive.
- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are a combined 8-for-47 against Iwakuma.
- Joe Smith‘s 1.37 ERA against Seattle is his lowest when facing a team 20 or more times.
- The Angels are 14-12 at Safeco Field since 2012.
TV: 7:10 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, ROOT SPORTS
Radio: KLAA 830, 710 ESPN (Seattle)