Thursday, July 15, 2010

MARINERS: @LAA Series Preview (July 15-18)

The Mariners start the second half of the season (or at least the second part of the season following the All-Star break) in Anaheim to begin a four-game series against the division-rival Angels. This year’s All-Star game was held at Angels Stadium and each team will hope to keep that “star caliber” play continuing in-house, beginning tonight at 7:05pm.

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Much to our chagrin, the 2010 season is all but lost for the Mariners, heading into the break with a sultry 35-53 record, and 15.0 games behind the division-leading Rangers. If the M’s are to make any attempt of a comeback (a la the 1995 miracle magic), each and every division game needs to be a top priority. Naturally, every game on the schedule should be a priority, but wins against Oakland, Texas, and Anaheim for the remainder of the year are gold for gaining ground within the division.

Every night is a benchmark to turn the season around, and a series win against the Angels will go a long ways in achieving that mindset. The Mariners will throw one of their more reliable starters tonight in RHP Doug Fister (3-4, 3.09 ERA) against former M’s hero Joel Pineiro (9-6, 3.95). Pineiro has had an effective debut season for Anaheim, and has already earned a win against Seattle despite giving up 9 hits and 4 ER. If Fister provides a quality start and gives up 3 or less runs, expect the Seattle offense to re-trigger their memories facing Pineiro and squeeze out a win.

Friday night is the clear showcase of the series as each team will provide their squads’ ace, with Felix Hernandez (7-5, 2.88) and Jered Weaver (8-5, 3.20) taking the mound for the M’s and Angels respectively. Felix is currently on a streak of 3 straight CGs, and will look to maintain that dominance against a moderately threatening Anaheim offense. On the other side of the ball, however, M’s fans should feel just as worried facing an intimidating Cy Young candidate in Weaver.

Closing the series for the Mariners on Sunday afternoon is LHP Jason Vargas (6-4, 3.09), who looks to maintain a surprising and impressive run during the 2010 season. Look out for Vargas in the final months of season to see if he’s worthy of being promoted in the rotation for the 2011 M’s squad. Likewise, Vargas has a career record of 2-0 and a 2.82 ERA against LAA.

It all begins tonight to see if this Mariners team is full of heart, or just another disappointment to join the rest of the clubs this town has seen in the last five years. As mentioned prior, tonight’s matchup in Anaheim is scheduled for a 7:05pm start time, and will be aired on FSN.

Reach Jacob Kehle at