On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Angels started their seventh pitcher of the young season - matching their 2008 total.
With Anthony Ortega scheduled to make his major league debut, the Angels are expected to top that mark Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan will try to get the Angels back on track as they continue their three-game home series with the Seattle Mariners, who are looking for their longest road win streak in three seasons.
Los Angeles has endured a tumultuous and tragedy-filled April beginning with the death of Nick Adenhart, who was killed along with two friends in a collision with a suspected drunken driver during the first week of the season.
After winning a franchise-record 100 games last season, the Angels (6-10) have struggled with injuries to starters Kelvim Escobar (right shoulder surgery), John Lackey (strained right forearm), Dustin Moseley (right elbow irritation), Darren Oliver (strained right tricep) and Ervin Santana (sprained right elbow). Star outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is also out with a torn pectoral muscle.
Ortega is 1-1 with a 9.88 ERA in three starts this season for Triple-A Salt Lake, but Los Angeles is hoping he can show the same stuff he had in his first season in the Pacific Coast League. The right-hander was 5-0 in six starts for Salt Lake with a 2.52 ERA in 2008 and was named the Angels’ minor league pitcher of the year.
“Last year, he was opening up a lot of eyes to what he was doing,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia told the team’s official Web site. “He certainly jumped up our depth chart. … He’s not the finished product, but we feel he’s ready for the challenge.”
Scioscia’s team could use a strong pitching performance after allowing 25 runs over the last three games. The Angels offense, which had scored 10 runs in consecutive games, was kept mostly in check in Friday night’s 8-3 loss to the Mariners.
Only one run came on a hit - Mike Napoli’s home run - and the other two scored on an error and a groundout during a three-run fifth inning.
Seattle (11-6) has consecutive victories for the first time since a six-game win streak from April 9-15 and is searching for sixth straight road victories for the first time since June 24-July 14, 2006.
The Mariners will look to Carlos Silva (0-2, 6.35), who allowed two runs in seven innings against the Angels in a 3-2 loss April 14. Following Sunday’s 8-2 home loss to Detroit, the veteran right-hander dropped to 4-17 in 31 career starts with Seattle after giving up four runs in five innings.
Silva is 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 11 starts against the Angels.
Russell Branyan’s return from lower back spasms helped Seattle produce a season-high 17 hits. After missing five games, the first baseman hit his third home run in the second inning, scored on a wild pitch during a six-run fifth and added an RBI double in the sixth for the team’s final run.
“I was ready to go yesterday, but (manager Don Wakamatsu) just wanted to give me one more day just to be sure,” Branyan said. “I had some jitters tonight. … Right now, I think I’m out of the woods.”
With two hits in three straight games, Ichiro Suzuki has raised his average from .240 to .308.