Though the Los Angeles Angels own the best road record in the majors, they would very much like to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The AL West champions look to bounce back from a rare defeat away from home on Wednesday night as they continue their four-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Since clinching its fifth postseason berth in seven years nearly two weeks ago, Los Angeles (97-60) has won 10 of 13 games. It is two victories shy of matching the franchise mark of 99, set in 2002 en route to the team’s lone World Series championship.
The Angels currently boast baseball’s best overall record, as well as the top road mark at 49-29, but halted their five-game winning streak at Seattle with Tuesday’s 9-6 loss to the Mariners, who ended a 12-game skid overall.
Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer and Gary Matthews Jr. added a two-run shot for Los Angeles, which kept its magic number for opening every postseason series in Anaheim at four with five games remaining after AL East-leading Tampa Bay completed a doubleheader sweep at Baltimore earlier Tuesday.
“We’re trying to get that home-field advantage but not just that. We’re trying to win period,” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. “So we’re not really looking at Tampa. We don’t even know what Tampa did today. We’re just worried about the Angels.”
While Los Angeles is building momentum for its playoff run, Seattle (58-99) is trying to prevent its first 100-loss season since 1983.
Kenji Johjima drove in three runs Tuesday, helping the Mariners rally for their first win since beating Texas on Sept. 10. Their 12-game slide was the longest since they dropped 14 straight from Sept. 2-18, 1992.
“When streaks like that get to be five, six, seven games, it’s an ugly number no matter where it’s at,” Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. “Once you get in that six, seven range it’s weighing on you.”
As they try to make it two in a row for the first time since a four-game run Aug. 29-Sept. 1, the last-place Mariners match up against Jon Garland (14-8, 4.79 ERA), who is coming off of his shortest start this season.
The right-hander has led Los Angeles to victory five times over his last six starts - a span in which he is 3-0 with a 6.95 ERA. He escaped without a decision on Friday despite allowing eight earned runs and 10 hits over 2 1-3 innings of the Angels’ 15-13 win at Texas.
Garland is 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 15 career games against the Mariners, winning his last two outings. He issued three walks, but held them to two runs and six hits over six innings of a 5-2 home victory on Sept. 13.
Felix Hernandez (9-11, 3.38) counters for Seattle, looking to become the team’s lone 10-game winner. The Mariners have finished without a pitcher in double-digit wins twice in team history (1981, 2004).
Though the right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.05 ERA over his last four starts, he has received just four runs of support in that stretch. He took a tough-luck loss on Friday, despite limiting Oakland to two runs and six hits, while fanning eight over eight innings of a 2-0 decision.
It was the fourth time Seattle was shut out when he starts.
Hernandez is 3-4 with a 4.74 ERA in 11 career starts against the Angels. He gave up three runs and eight hits over seven innings of a 4-3 road defeat on Sept. 14.