The Mariners (42-52), who play their 95th game Sunday, will finish the first half with a slightly better record through 95 games than last year (40-55).
GAME: Angels (44-48, 3rd, AL West, -10.0 GB) at Mariners (42-52, 4th, AL West, -13.0 GB). GAME #: 95. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 13th (series tied 6-6). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Angels L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners reach the end of the first half Sunday when they wrap up a three-game series against the L.A. Angels at Safeco Field. If the Mariners have shown any improvement over last year through their first 95 games, it’s their ability to deliver home runs — a lot of them by recent Seattle standards.
After Justin Smoak’s three-run blast Saturday night, they have hit 114 (24 by Raul Ibanez), a total that not only ranks third in the American League, but is 35 shy of their 2012 full-season total of 149. More impressive is the progress: Two years ago, 2011, the Mariners hit 109 home runs all season.
The Mariners will enter the series finale with a streak of 21 consecutive games cranking at least one long ball, a franchise record, topping the 19-game streak assembled by the Ken Griffey Jr.-Edgar Martinez-Alex Rodriguez-Jay Buhner Mariners from Sept. 7-27, 1999.
They will also enter having scored 44 runs with 10 home runs in the first six games of the home stand, all good news for Hisashi Iwakuma, who can use all the help he can get. After a tremendous start — 7-1 record, 1.79 ERA — Iwakuma is 0-3, 6.83 over his last five outings and has allowed 10 home runs in his last four. In his most recent, he lasted a season-low 3.0 innings against the Red Sox.
Fortunately for Iwakuma, he’ll oppose Joe Blanton, who has paid the most for L.A.’s disappointing season. Blanton is 2-11, 5.40 and has surrendered 143 hits in 108.1 innings. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 20th start and second against the Angels. The first-time All-Star has struggled lately, and has been particularly vulnerable to the long ball. He has allowed 10 in his last four starts after giving up up one in five previous starts. Iwakuma, though, still has a tremendous strikeouts-to-walk ratio, 106-18.
ANGELS: RHP Joe Blanton (2-11, 5.40 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Blanton, a Bowling Green, KY., native in his 10th major league season and first with the Angels, will make his 19th start and third against the Mariners. Blanton had quality starts in six of his previous eight outings before surrendering four home runs in five-plus innings against the Cubs Tuesday at Wrigley Field. He has allowed 143 hits in 108.1 innings and is 0-1 with a no-decision against Seattle.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|7/14||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (2-11)|