Seattle Mariners (80-67) at Los Angeles Angels (93-55)
Monday, September 15 - 10:05 PM EST
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California
There are many reasons why the Los Angeles Angels are running away with the American League West and Matt Shoemaker could be at the top of the list. The rookie right-hander tries for his seventh straight victory - and 16th of the season - when Los Angeles begins a four-game series with the visiting Seattle Mariners on Monday. "We are not shocked by what he is doing,'' Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher told USA Today of the 27-year-old Shoemaker. "We always felt we could put him out there and he'd give us a chance to win. He's been doing a little more than that."
The Angels' magic number to win their first American League West title since 2009 remained at four after their 10-game winning streak - one short of the club record - ended with a 6-1 loss to Houston on Sunday. Seattle dropped the final two contests of a three-game series with Oakland - 4-0 on Sunday - to fall one game behind Kansas City for the second wild card spot with its fourth loss in five contests. Seattle begins an 11-game road trip which also takes it through Houston and Toronto by giving the ball to Hisashi Iwakuma, who has struggled in his last four starts but is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in eight career games against Los Angeles.
TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, ROOT (Seattle), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Hisashi Iwakuma (14-7, 3.11 ERA) vs. Angels RH Matt Shoemaker (15-4, 3.16)
Iwakuma had a five-game winning streak snapped in his last turn when he allowed four runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 5-2 loss to Houston on Wednesday. The 33-year-old Tokyo native is 2-1 with an unsightly 7.50 ERA in his last four turns after permitting only one run in his previous three starts - all wins - over 21 2/3 innings. Iwakuma, who received a no-decision in Seattle's 3-2 loss in Anaheim on July 18, has fared well against AL MVP candidate Mike Trout (4-for-22, six strikeouts).
Shoemaker set a franchise record for wins in a season by a rookie after yielding one run and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-1 victory at Texas on Wednesday. "Every day I've just tried to get better," the Michigan native told USA Today. "If you can make a difficult game as simple as possible, it's going to help you." Shoemaker faced the Mariners twice - once in relief - and earned a 7-5 victory in Seattle on May 29 in his fifth major-league start after yielding three runs 5 1/3 innings.
1. Mariners C Mike Zunino (.195, 20 homers, 52 RBIs) is 4-for-31 in September.
2. The Angels (93-56), who lead the majors in scoring at 4.9 runs per game, are on pace to set a club record for wins in a season, surpassing the 100 they recorded in 2008.
3. Seattle, which is 24-16 since the start of August, has won seven of the 12 meetings this season, including four of six at Angels Stadium.
PREDICTION: Angels 3, Mariners 2