Though he’s not headed to the All-Star game at this time, Dan
Haren is closing the first half of the season as if he belongs.
Haren will try to win his fourth straight start and give the
surging Los Angeles Angels a four-game sweep of Seattle on Sunday
when they face All-Star Felix Hernandez, who’s struggled against
the Mariners’ AL West rivals.
Haren (9-5, 2.65 ERA) has allowed three runs in his last three
games, and none in his last two. After holding Washington to two
hits in 7 1-3 innings on June 29, the right-hander fired a
two-hitter with nine strikeouts for his 100th career win, 1-0 over
All-Star Justin Verlander and Detroit on Tuesday.
“He’s been phenomenal,” second baseman Howie Kendrick said of
Haren. “We haven’t always given him run support, but he’s always
keeping us in it. I love playing defense behind him.”
Haren has the third-lowest run support average in the majors at
2.58 per game.
He’s 5-3 in eight starts since he didn’t receive a decision
against the Mariners on May 19, when he yielded a run, three hits
and a season-high four walks in the Angels’ 2-1 loss at Safeco
Field. Since joining Los Angeles (49-42) in a trade with Arizona
last July 25, Haren is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts against
Ichiro Suzuki, who’s 15 for 54 (.277) against Haren, is a career
.310 hitter in Anaheim after getting two hits Saturday. The
Mariners’ icon is not headed to the Midsummer Classic for the first
time in his 11-year career.
Hernandez (8-7, 3.22) is slated to make his second All-Star
appearance, but first hopes to end his woes against Los Angeles.
The right-hander is 0-3 in six starts versus the Angels since
beating them on Sept. 2, 2009.
It’s been far longer since the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner
left Anaheim with a win. Hernandez is 0-4 in nine starts since
tossing a four-hitter in his debut there on June 11, 2006.
He pitched eight solid innings Tuesday at Oakland, but failed to
get a decision. Hernandez fanned 10 – the fifth time he’s reached
double digits this year – while giving up a run and four hits in
the Mariners’ 4-2 victory in 10 innings.
“Felix was as good as we’ve seen him all year long tonight, and
that’s saying a lot,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’
With 134 strikeouts, Hernandez is four behind Verlander for the
AL lead. Verlander is scheduled to face Kansas City earlier
Los Angeles, which has won 13 of 16 overall, is in position for
its first four-game sweep of Seattle (43-47) since Sept. 11-14,
2008, after a 9-3 victory Saturday. Torii Hunter homered twice
among three hits and drove in a season-high five.
The Angels have gone deep 15 times heading into the finale of
this 13-game homestand. They had homered 14 times in the first 35
games at Angel Stadium in 2011.
”I’m happy about the way we’re playing. It’s like all cylinders
are clicking,” Hunter said. ”This is the team I thought we should
have been. … Sometimes you’ve got to ride the wave until it’s
done, or ride the bike until the wheels fall off.”
The Angels, winners of 15 of 17 at home against the Mariners,
are one game behind Texas for the division lead.
Kendrick, who extended his hitting streak to 18 games Saturday,
is just 7 for 33 (.212) with six strikeouts against Hernandez.