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Preview: Mariners at Angels

Current Conditions – Anaheim
CLOUDY 74 °F
Wind: WNW 3
5-Day Forecast GAME: Seattle Mariners (74-80) at Los Angeles Angels (79-74)
DATE/TIME: Saturday, September 26 – 9:05 PM EST
WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A

The Los Angeles Angels are closing in on the sinking Houston Astros as the race for the second American League wild-card spot heats up. Los Angeles moved to within a half-game of the Astros after winning the series opener against the visiting Seattle Mariners and has the opportunity to move past Houston on Saturday.

The Angels, though, have to contend with Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in five starts against them this season. Hernandez departed his last outing versus Texas after 5 2/3 innings with elbow stiffness and was pushed back a day to get extra rest. Slumping Albert Pujols slugged a two-run homer in Friday’s 8-4 victory – only his third blast of the month – and center fielder Mike Trout went 3-for-5 as Los Angeles won for the sixth time in eight games. Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz smacked his 43rd homer and is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major-league lead with 43 homers.

TV: 9:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), FSN West (Los Angeles)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Felix Hernandez (18-9, 3.54 ERA) vs. Angels LH Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.30)

Hernandez can match his career high for victories by defeating Los Angeles. He has a porous 4.60 ERA since the All-Star break while going 7-4 in 12 starts. Hernandez is 14-14 with a 3.31 ERA in 45 career starts against the Angels and has struggled against Trout (.349 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 63 at-bats) and left fielder David Murphy, who belted his fourth career homer off Hernandez in the Angels’ 4-3 victory on Sept. 15.

Heaney defeated the Mariners on July 12 when he allowed five hits in seven shutout innings. He is 1-3 over his past 10 starts, though, after reeling off five consecutive victories. Heaney has issued only 21 walks in 16 starts and has a solid 1.15 WHIP.

WALK-OFFS

1. Mariners SS Ketel Marte was hitless in five at-bats Friday to end an 11-game hitting streak.

2. Los Angeles 2B Johnny Giavotella went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the opener after missing five weeks with a nerve palsy condition that caused him double vision.

3. Seattle CF Brad Miller is 8-for-18 with four RBIs over the past six games.

PREDICTION: Angels 2, Mariners 1