The Los Angeles Angels have one last chance to capture their latest AL West title in front of the home fans. So far, however, the Seattle Mariners have been successful at keeping the celebration on hold.
The Angels (91-64) and Mariners (83-71) close out a four-game series on Sunday, with Los Angeles making its third attempt to nail down its third division crown in four years.
After opening the series with a 9-5 win on Thursday, the Angels’ magic number remained one following back-to-back losses. Los Angeles, which has already guaranteed at least a share of West, was shut out by Seattle 6-0 on Friday before falling 3-2 on Saturday.
“We know we need one more to reach our first goal,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But we want to play good baseball. You want to build momentum.”
Trailing 3-0, the Angels’ comeback would fall short. Maicer Izturis drove in a run in the sixth and Vladimir Guerrero had an RBI groundout in the ninth, but Mariners closer J.J. Putz struck out Garrett Anderson with Orlando Cabrera on second to earn his 39th save in 41 chances.
“You don’t ever want to see a team clinch when you’re playing them,” Putz said. “Our attitude is that we’re not really out of anything yet, mathematically.
Seattle has won five of six and eight of 11, but is 7 1/2 games behind the Angels with eight games left.
Los Angeles is 53-27 at Angel Stadium this year and have not lost three straight there since July 15-24, when it dropped three in a row there. If the Angels cannot clinch Sunday, they’ll have to do so in Texas or Oakland as they wrap up the regular season.
Los Angels will hand the ball to John Lackey (17-9, 3.13 ERA). He started the season 10-4 with a 2.53 ERA, but is 7-5 with a 3.61 ERA since June 18.
Lackey won his last start against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, allowing one run and five hits while striking out 10 over eight innings of a 2-1 win. The right-hander said he was hoping the Angels’ could clinch the division over the weekend.
“You’d like to get it done as quick as you can so you can get everything lined up for whoever you’re going to play in the first round,” Lackey said.
Lackey is 9-8 with a 3.97 ERA in 21 career starts against the Mariners. He has won his last four starts against them, including two seven-hitters this season. Only six Seattle players have managed hits off him this year.
Jeff Weaver (7-12, 6.21) counters for the Mariners, facing the team he played with in 2004 and part of 2006. Weaver snapped a four-game winless streak on Wednesday, beating Oakland 9-7. He allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings.
The right-hander is 5-7 with a 3.78 ERA in 13 starts and two relief appearances against the Angels. He is 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA in three starts against them this year, and has failed make it through the fifth inning in any of them.