Torii Hunter(notes) was certainly deserving of his All-Star nod, but his performance in that game at Angel Stadium was a small illustrator of how much the veteran and Los Angeles have struggled in recent weeks.
Hunter, part of an American League team that couldn’t prevail at his home venue, leads the Angels as they try to end their struggles Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
Los Angeles’ year has been marred by slugging first baseman Kendry Morales’(notes) season-ending leg injury, but Hunter has done his best to help fill the void. The veteran center fielder is hitting .298 with 15 homers, 24 doubles and 62 RBIs, earning his fourth All-Star selection.
Hunter, though, went 0 for 2 for the AL in a 3-1 loss Tuesday, striking out with two on and two outs with a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning.
He has one hit in his last 10 at-bats for the Angels (47-44), losers of eight of 10. Los Angeles scored two runs or fewer in each of the defeats.
Still, Los Angeles has managed to remain in contention in the AL West, trailing first-place Texas by 4 1/2 games.
Joel Pineiro(notes) (9-6, 3.95 ERA), who has started in each of the Angels’ last two wins, is set to take the mound. He earned wins in six straight starts before Friday night, when he surrendered three runs in seven innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win over Oakland.
The veteran right-hander has a 1.83 ERA over his last six outings.
Pineiro, whose first seven seasons were with the Mariners, is 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA in one start and two relief appearances against his former team.
The 2007 All-Star MVP was selected for the 10th straight year, and made his ninth consecutive start as a leadoff hitter, topping the record he previously shared with Rod Carew and Willie Mays. Suzuki has been one of Seattle’s few bright spots, batting .326 with 17 doubles and 22 stolen bases.
Even with Suzuki’s production, the Mariners (35-53) are last in the AL in runs (298). Seattle, at the bottom of the AL West, has lost nine of 11.
“Obviously there have been some challenges and disappointments,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “As we go forward, we feel like we need to get over some hurdles offensively.”
Seattle is looking toward the future after trading ace Cliff Lee(notes) and reliever Mark Lowe(notes) to Texas last week for first baseman Justin Smoak(notes) and three minor leaguers. With Lee gone, Doug Fister(notes) (3-4, 3.09) is being counted on to remain a steady member of the rotation.
The right-hander is coming off an encouraging start, allowing one run in six innings of a 7-3 loss to Kansas City on July 7. He went 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in his previous two outings.
Fister is 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts versus the Angels.
Los Angeles has averaged 8.0 runs en route to winning five straight versus Seattle, and leads the season series 7-2.