If it were up to them, the Los Angeles Angels might choose to play the rest of their games at Safeco Field.
The surging Angels try to extend their road winning streak over the Seattle Mariners to a franchise-record eight Sunday when these AL West foes conclude a three-game set.
While Los Angeles - winner of nine of 11 overall - has gone 36-29 on its field, it may soon start to think of Safeco as a second home. The Angels have outscored the Mariners 32-12 in going 6-0 in Seattle, where they’ve won seven in a row dating to last year.
After snapping the Mariners’ season-high eight-game home winning streak Friday with a 9-1 victory, Los Angeles (71-62) continued its recent prowess in the Pacific Northwest with Saturday’s 5-2 win. Ervin Santana held the Mariners (64-70) in check and Mark Trumbo knocked Felix Hernandez out of the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning, helping to saddle the Mariners ace with his first loss since June 12.
“That’s a big statement on how we keep grinding it out,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We beat a terrific pitcher this afternoon. He had been pitching as well as anyone in baseball for a while.”
Los Angeles now turns to another of the game’s best in Jered Weaver (16-3, 2.85 ERA), who entered 2012 having gone 6-1 with a 1.07 ERA over a 10-start stretch versus Seattle prior to giving up three runs in seven innings during a 4-1 home loss Aug. 12. While Weaver had won a career-best 10 consecutive decisions overall and nine straight starts before that appearance, he’s 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA over his last four outings.
Weaver came out with another lackluster display Tuesday but escaped without a decision after the Angels scored twice in the ninth inning, beating Boston 6-5. The right-hander was tagged for five runs and seven hits in seven innings.
While Weaver hasn’t been very sharp of late, his counterpart Hisashi Iwakuma (5-3, 3.40) appears to have found his groove.
Iwakuma - who moved into the rotation in early July - has been superb over his last eight starts, going 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA and striking out 46 in 49 2-3 innings.
The right-hander overcame a career-worst four walks to win his third consecutive decision Tuesday, yielding one unearned run and one hit over six innings of a 5-2 victory at Minnesota.
“Iwakuma did it the hard way,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’ official website. “He was erratic, didn’t play up the same command he normally does, but he didn’t give in to it. A lot of leadoff runners, but he controlled the damage.”
Iwakuma held his own against the Angels during a 7-4 road victory Aug. 11, giving up three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. His only major mistake came against Vernon Wells, who hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
“The biggest thing we knew going in was that if (Iwakuma) was effective down in the zone, it was going to be a long night,” Wells said after that game. “And it was, for the most part, because he kept the ball down.”
Iwakuma will need to be wary of Torii Hunter, who after collecting three more hits Saturday, is 13 for 17 with six runs scored over his last four games. Albert Pujols, batting .392 with five homers and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games, could also prove difficult to slow down.
While Weaver has had his way with most of the Mariners’ hitters, Jesus Montero is 3 for 6 with three homers in their matchups.
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