The Seattle Mariners will send Felix Hernandez to the mound as they try to remain unbeaten in interleague play and complete a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
Seattle (36-37) improved to 8-0 in interleague play with a 9-6 victory on Wednesday. The Mariners have won a season-high five straight games and can get back to the .500 mark for the first time since April 15 with a victory in the finale.
Los Angeles (36-35) has dropped five straight for the first time since April 30-May 4. The Dodgers need a victory Thursday to avoid falling to .500 for the first time since May 16.
Hernandez (7-6, 5.02 ERA) is on the longest winning streak of his young career as he seeks to win his fifth straight start. Hernandez is 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA since losing to Minnesota on May 26.
The 20-year-old right-hander allowed four runs and six hits over six innings in a 5-4 victory over San Francisco on Friday in his last outing. Hernandez, who improved to 2-0 with a 8.25 ERA in two interleague starts this year, wasn’t happy.
“At first, I was good with my fastball, but I was up a little bit,” he said through a translator. “I tried to calm down a little bit.”
Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki brings a 20-game hitting streak—the longest in the AL—into Thursday’s contest. Suzuki is hitting .472 (42-for-89) with 22 runs scored during his run, which is three games shy of his career-best.
Seattle has scored 17 runs and collected 27 hits in winning the first two games of this series. Former Los Angeles third baseman Adrian Beltre is 5-for-7 with six runs scored and four RBIs in his return to Dodger Stadium, including a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning.
Cesar Izturis will make his debut at third base for Los Angeles on Thursday in his first start of the season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September to repair degenerative arthritis in his right elbow.
He’s played the position once, for two innings in an instructional league game in 1998 while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“My arm feels good,” Izturis said. “I feel 100 percent. The first game (at third base) will be like opening day. I think I’ll be nervous.”
Izturis won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 2004 and may eventually be shifted to second base.
Los Angeles starter Brett Tomko (5-6, 5.45) is 0-5 with an 11.22 ERA over his last five outings. He’s lasted past the fifth inning just once in that stretch, allowing five runs and nine hits over five innings in his last outing in a 7-3 loss at Oakland last Friday.
“It’s not fun to lose every single time, five straight times. It’s very humbling,” Tomko said. “You try to get something positive out of it, but it’s tough to see a silver lining. It’s been a rough month.”
The right-hander, who pitched for Seattle from 2000-01, is making his second career start against the Mariners and first since 2002.