Mariners carry postseason hopes into visit with Angels

Field Level Media

September 24, 2021 at 6:20 am.

The Los Angeles Angels will open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night in Anaheim, Calif., and it will mark the Angels’ third consecutive series against visiting teams from the AL West that are contending for postseason appearances.

The Angels lost all three of their games to Oakland, then dropped three of four against first-place Houston. Next up are the Mariners (84-69), who are two games behind the New York Yankees (86-67) for the second wild-card spot. Toronto (85-68) sits between those teams.

Seattle is riding a five-game winning streak, the last four coming in a sweep at Oakland. With a 6-5 win Thursday, the Mariners improved their record in September to 13-7, their best record by winning percentage of any month this season.

“We’re doing the things that we preached are going to be very important for us as we continue this journey,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “And all year long I think I’ve said, ‘Just focus on getting better.’ And we are continuing to get better.”

Seattle trailed 4-1 going into the fifth inning on Thursday, but Servais said his players never feel like they are out of a game.

“Just the constant belief in our dugout, if (the pitchers) can just put some zeros up there, we’ll come up with some big hits,” Servais said.

Right-hander Logan Gilbert (6-5, 4.74 ERA) will start for Seattle, fresh off one of his best starts of the season. On Sunday in Kansas City, Gilbert gave up just one run and three hits in seven innings of a 7-1 victory over the Royals.

Gilbert is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two career starts against the Angels, both coming this season.

Left-hander Jose Suarez (7-8, 3.67) will start for the Angels. He took a loss Saturday against Oakland when he allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Suarez has the distinction of throwing the only complete game this season among the Angels’ staff, going the distance against Texas on Sept. 4. After that game, Angels manager Joe Maddon said his next start would be especially important.

“I wanna see his next start,” Maddon said. “I wanna see the carryover. That’s what’s gonna make him into a really good major league starter.”

Suarez was up to the task, earning a win over the Astros while giving up just one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings his next time out.

Without a chance at reaching the postseason, the Angels still have Shohei Ohtani striving to become the Angels’ fourth player to win MVP, joining Don Baylor (1979), Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Mike Trout (2014, ’16, ’19).

However, without Trout and Anthony Rendon in the lineup most of the season to provide protection, Ohtani does not get much to hit and has struggled in September. After going 0-for-1 with three walks on Thursday against Houston, Ohtani is hitting .206 (13-for-63) with three homers and five RBIs in 19 games this month.

“What it’s going to come down to is him keeping a more finite strike zone,” Maddon said. “If he does that, you’re going to see him hit the ball very well.”