Fortunately for both teams, they’ll have their aces on the mound when they continue their four-game series on Friday.
Los Angeles (63-59) beat Seattle 5-2 on Thursday, despite the absence of two players and its manager. The loss was the Mariners’ eighth in a row—all to divisional opponents—for their longest losing streak since losing nine straight from July 2-11, 2004.
Seattle (56-65) also has lost 17 straight games to AL West teams, matching the major league record for consecutive losses in a division. Detroit lost 17 straight from 1996-97.
The Mariners’ last victory within the division was a 6-2 win over Los Angeles on June 11 at Angel Stadium. Seattle is 10-29 against divisional foes.
“You take the good with the bad,” losing pitcher Jamie Moyer said. “I’ve been on the good side of this, but now we’re on the down side and it’s up to the people in this room to deal with it and get out of it.
“The season’s not over. We’ve got 41 games left, and you play them all hard and with passion. Otherwise you shouldn’t be here.”
The Angels played without manager Mike Scioscia, who was suspended for three games for his role in the team’s brawl with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
Shortstop Adam Kennedy, who started the brawl by charging the mound, and relievers Kevin Gregg and Brendan Donnelly, who plunked Texas batters, were each suspended for four games. Kennedy and Gregg began serving their suspensions immediately while Donnelly will appeal his.
To stop their losing streak, the Mariners will turn to Felix Hernandez (10-10, 4.50 ERA), who entered this season as the perhaps the most touted young pitcher in the majors.
After posting a 2.67 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 84 1-3 innings last year, he struggled with expectations early on this season, but has since righted himself.
He went 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts before allowing seven runs—six earned—and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-6 loss to Texas on Sunday.
“I think it’s because he has been more comfortable in his surroundings,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “There was a period at the end of spring training where he was out for about two weeks and I think that contributed to his inconsistency early on.”
Hernandez surrendered the spotlight to Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver (8-0, 2.14), who has become one of baseball’s brightest young stars by becoming the first pitcher to win his first eight career decisions since Livan Hernandez in 1997 with Florida.
Weaver is undefeated in 11 major league starts, with an ERA that would put him first in the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
He won his first seven starts, then endured three outings where he didn’t earn a decision before beating the Yankees on Sunday, allowing one run and three hits in six innings.
The 23-year-old right-hander has given up more than three runs in only one start, and he’s had six outings where’s he given up four hits or less.
“Not having a lot of innings of pro baseball under his belt, he’s pitched great,” Scioscia said. “He gave us a great ball game. That’s what we’ll need down the stretch. He’s pitching great baseball.”
Weaver beat Hernandez and the Mariners on July 3, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 7-1 victory.
Hernandez allowed six hits and five runs—four earned—in 6 2-3 innings, taking the loss. He threw his first complete game to beat the Angels on June 11, allowing four hits and two runs.