After a terrific showing from Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners are hoping to get a similar performance from Brandon Maurer.
Unfortunately for them, the second-year starter is pitching nothing like a staff ace.
Maurer tries to avoid losing a fourth consecutive start as the Mariners close a four-game set against the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Seattle (26-26) improved to 4-3 on its season-high 11-game homestand after winning 3-1 on Wednesday. Hernandez carried a shutout into the ninth inning and struck out nine before giving way to Fernando Rodney, who recorded a one-out save.
Mike Zunino went 2 for 3 with a homer and drove in all three runs for Seattle, which has taken six of eight from the Angels this year.
The Mariners now turn to Maurer (1-3, 6.99 ERA), who has compiled a 7.04 ERA during his three-start losing streak. The right-hander yielded a season-worst six earned runs over 4 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 9-4 loss to Houston.
"I had a long talk with Maurer about that," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB’s official website. "Really what I’d like to see him do is just go out and worry about pleasing Brandon. Don’t worry about pleasing me or anybody else. Just pitch your game, relax and have fun with it and see what happens. I don’t know where it takes us, we’ll see, but hopefully it takes us in the right direction."
Maurer is 1-1 with a 7.15 ERA in three games – two starts – against the Angels (29-23). He was tagged for a career-high seven runs and 11 hits over three innings in a 7-1 loss at Los Angeles last May 22.
Albert Pujols and Mike Trout are a combined 6 for 12 against Maurer. While Pujols is 2 for his last 15, Trout is batting .364 with two homers and seven RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
After losing reliever Sean Burnett to a season-ending elbow injury, the Angels, losers in three of five after an 11-3 stretch, will use Thursday’s scheduled starter Wade LeBlanc out of the bullpen. Rookie Matt Shoemaker (2-1, 3.18) will instead take the mound after briefly getting sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake.
"It’s good to be back," Shoemaker said. "It’s not necessarily a fun thing to get sent down, but just having the right thoughts about it, I definitely understood the move. Whether you like it or not, I understood."
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three big league starts. He allowed three runs – two earned – and eight hits over five innings in Saturday’s 7-4, 13-inning loss to Kansas City.
"I completely feel confident I can pitch well here and help the team win," Shoemaker told the team’s official website. "I know I can do that – compete. It’s definitely a little confidence boost, being able to compete and pitch at this level."
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano went 0 for 4 on Wednesday, but he’s still batting .408 over the last 12 games. He’s a career .313 hitter against the Angels.