John Lackey hopes he has snapped out of his slump.
The 24-year-old right-hander looks to build upon his best start of the season when the Anaheim Angels visit the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a four-game series between the division rivals at Safeco Field.
Lackey capped his rookie season with a brilliant performance in Game 7 of last October’s World Series against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed one run and four hits in the 4-1 triumph, striking out four and walking just one as the Angels claimed their first world championship.
But he has gotten off to a rough start to this season, going 3-5 with a 6.14 ERA over his first 13 outings.
He finally regained the form he flashed last season in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, yielding one run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two.
“He was really into the game and looked really intense,” closer Troy Percival said. “That’s the way he has to be. I liked what I saw from him out there.”
Lackey admitted Tuesday’s performance provided some much-needed relief.
“I just think I’ve been out there competing hard every game,” he said, “but you have a little bit of success and you get fired up.”
David Eckstein had the lone hit for the Angels, who have won five of eight despite the loss.
The AL-leading Mariners took two of three from the NL-leading Atlanta Braves with Sunday’s 2-1 victory as Seattle tied Atlanta for the best record in the majors (45-22).
Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games, batting .469 (23-for-49), to raise his average to .339; Boone is batting (28-for-73) .384 over his last 20 games.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 10 1/2 GB, AL West. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Lackey (4-5, 5.76 ERA). Lackey is 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA in three career starts against Seattle.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joel Pineiro (5-5, 3.89 ERA). Pineiro is winless in two starts since tossing a four-hitter during a 6-0 win over Minnesota on May 30, allowing a combined six runs and 11 hits over 13 1-3 innings. In Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Montreal, Pineiro surrendered two runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings, striking out three and walking two. Pineiro is 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA in nine career appearances, including five starts, against Anaheim.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - RHP Lackey is 1-3 with a 5.71 ERA in seven road starts this season. … OF Anderson is batting .316 with three doubles, one homer and five RBIs in 19 career at-bats against RHP Pineiro. … The Angels lead the AL with 62 stolen bases. Florida holds the major league lead with 84. Mariners - The Mariners are 3-5 in their last eight home games and have scored a total of 13 runs in those eight games (1.6 rpg). … 1B John Olerud went 1-for-3 Sunday to move one hit shy of 2,000 for his career. … Seattle placed INF Greg Colbrunn on the 15-day DL Sunday, retroactive to June 9, because of a strained muscle in his right side. INF Luis Ugueto was called up from Double-A San Antonio to replace Colbrunn on the roster.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 16-17 on the road; Mariners - 20-14 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - RHP Mickey Callaway (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL. Mariners - INF Colbrunn (oblique), 15-day DL; OF John Mabry (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL.