Rookie Kevin Gregg hopes to build on his first career win and help the defending World Series champion Anaheim Angels avoid a three-game sweep against the playoff-hopeful Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Gregg made his second career start in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 6 at Kansas City. The 25-year-old right-hander yielded a run and four hits over seven strong innings, striking out four and walking one, in a 3-1 victory over the Royals.
Gregg, who made 154 minor league starts, was overwhelmed by the accomplishment.
“I can’t explain it, it’s just a crazy feeling,” said Gregg. “I always expect myself to compete, but you’re always excited when you do that well.”
In two starts for the Angels this year, Gregg has yielded just two runs and eight hits over 13 innings.
The Mariners have won four in a row, including Saturday’s 5-1 triumph, to move within a half-game of the Boston Red Sox in the race for the AL wild card. Randy Winn hit his second grand slam of the year and Freddy Garcia pitched eight scoreless innings as the Mariners remained within 2 1/2 games of first-place Oakland in the AL West.
Seattle will play the Athletics six times in the final nine games of the season.
The Angels, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday, have lost five in a row. Anaheim is the first defending world champ to fail to reach the postseason since the 1998 Florida Marlins.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 19 GB, AL West. Mariners - 2nd place, 2 1/2 GB, AL West.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Gregg (1-0, 2.93 ERA). Gregg will be making his first appearance against the Mariners. He is 0-0 with a 4.32 ERA in two appearances, including one start, on the road this year.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Franklin (9-12, 3.64 ERA). Franklin is winless in his last four starts, but did not receive a decision in Seattle’s 5-4 loss to Texas on Tuesday despite yielding just one run and seven hits over 7 1-3 strong innings. Franklin has allowed two runs and 13 hits over 15 1-3 innings in his last two starts, but is 0-1 during that stretch. He is 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 10 career appearances, including seven starts, against Anaheim.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Garret Anderson, .313 avg., 29 HRs and 114 RBIs; Anderson and Tim Salmon, 72 runs; Adam Kennedy, 21 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .311 avg., 105 runs and 31 SBs; Bret Boone, 33 HRs and 108 RBIs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - OF Anderson needs four doubles to reach 50 on the season. He would join Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra, Houston’s Craig Biggio, Seattle’s Edgar Martinez and Colorado’s Todd Helton as the only current major leaguers with at least 50 doubles in consecutive seasons. … The Angels are 1-5 on their seven-game road trip. … SS David Eckstein is 1-for-23 career against RHP Franklin. Mariners - The Mariners are 4-1 on their six-game homestand. … RHP Franklin is 5-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 16 starts at Safeco this year. … Franklin has had his problems against OF Anderson, who is 9-for-21 (.429) with two homers and five RBIs against him.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 30-46 on the road; Mariners - 47-30 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - 3B Troy Glaus (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Darin Erstad (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL; C Bengie Molina (wrist), 60-day DL; 1B-DH Brad Fullmer (knee), 60-day DL. Mariners - INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Rett Johnson (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Thornton (elbow), 60-day DL.