Angels-Mariners Preview


Felix Hernandez might be in the midst of his most dominating stretch of the season, but he's had his issues with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012.

In position to win four straight starts for the first time in almost three years, Hernandez looks to overcome his struggles versus Los Angeles and help the Seattle Mariners avoid a seventh consecutive home loss to the Angels on Saturday.

Hernandez (13-5, 2.43 ERA) has allowed one run, 12 hits and struck out 22 over 25 2-3 innings while winning his last three starts. That run began Aug. 15 when he pitched a perfect game against Tampa Bay and continued when he tossed a five-hitter in a 1-0 win at Minnesota on Monday.

The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 17 walks in 14 starts since losing to San Diego on June 12.

"He's the real deal. That's why he's King Felix,'' teammate Eric Thames said. "That's why he's got the Cy Young, the perfect game, all that stuff.''

If Hernandez keeps it up, he could receive serious consideration for his second Cy Young Award in three seasons.

"I've been consistent the last two months,'' said Hernandez, who has not won four straight starts since a five-game run Sept. 13-Oct. 4, 2009. "I've been trying to throw strikes, been trying to get ahead of every hitter and mix all my pitches.''

That has not always been easy for Hernandez to do while going 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts versus Los Angeles (70-62) this year. He gave up five runs in seven innings of a 6-5 loss at Anaheim on Aug. 10. On May 26, he allowed five runs on homers to Albert Pujols and Alberto Callaspo in a 5-3 defeat that dropped him to 4-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 13 starts against the Angels at Safeco Field.

Kendrys Morales, batting .333 (13 for 39) with four doubles and a homer versus Hernandez, hit a first-inning three-run homer and had four RBIs to help Los Angeles snap Seattle's eight-game home winning streak with a 9-1 victory Friday. The Angels have outscored the Mariners (64-69) 31-13 during a six-game winning streak at Safeco.

Winners in four straight and eight of 10 overall, Los Angeles is 3 1/2 games out of the final AL wild-card spot.

"We think about today, then think about tomorrow," said infielder Erick Aybar, who had two hits in the opener. "We just try to stay together."

With four hits Friday, center fielder Torii Hunter is 10 for 13 in the last three games after going hitless in 12 at-bats over his previous four. He's 8 for 13 in his last three versus Seattle.

''Cut my swing down, make sure I get on base for Albert Pujols,'' Hunter said.

Scheduled Angels starter Ervin Santana (7-11, 5.45), however, is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this year. He gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of the Aug. 10 loss to Hernandez.

The right-hander allowed four runs in seven innings of a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Sunday after going 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in his previous five outings.

John Jaso, who drove in Seattle's lone run Friday, is 7 for 11 with a homer against Santana.

The Mariners have lost twice in 17 home games.