Angels, Mariners continue battle for wild card (Sep 09, 2017)

BY AP • September 9, 2017

SEATTLE -- The Los Angeles Angels have ridden an explosive offense into the thick of the American League wild-card race, and on Saturday they might need even more dynamite than usual.

The Angels (72-69) will take on fellow wild-card contender Seattle while hoping that struggling southpaw starter Andrew Heaney can keep the ball in the ballpark.

Heaney (1-1, 6.98 ERA) has struggled since coming off the 60-day disabled list three weeks ago. He has already given up 11 home runs in four starts, including three in 3 1/3 innings the last time out.

"I know when I do what I need to do, when I do what I can do, the results are good," Heaney said after his last start, a 7-6 loss to Texas on Sunday that saw him give up five runs.

The Angels, who are two games behind the Minnesota Twins in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, were hoping that Heaney could give the rotation a spark after a rough stretch by the starting pitchers. But he has just added to the problem thus far.

After Heaney's last start, manager Mike Scioscia said of the starting pitching: "We need to get that in order."

The Angels allowed 16 total runs in the two games that followed before starter Scott Skaggs stopped the bleeding in a 3-1 loss at Oakland on Wednesday. Then Friday starter Ricky Nolasco gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss to Seattle.

Heaney has had plenty of success against the Mariners (70-71) over his two starts against Seattle. He is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA against the Mariners, but has not faced them since 2015.

Mariners starter Andrew Albers (3-1, 3.43) will be facing the Angels for the first time in his career.

The 31-year-old lefty is trying to help Seattle stay alive in a wild-card race that is sliding out of the Mariners' control. With the win Friday night, Seattle stayed within four games of Minnesota in the race for the second wild-card spot.

"Everyone knows what's at stake," Mariners left fielder Ben Gamel said after the win. "We're just really trying to take a step back and win one game at a time. Just win one game, then win one game, then win one game."

With just 21 games left, the Mariners need every win they can get. Not only do they trail the Twins by four games, but there are three teams between them and the Twins -- and two others a half-game behind Seattle.

"We've got nothing to lose," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Just go play."

Seattle has the kind of lineup that could give Heaney and the Angels problems, as the Mariners have seven players with double-digit homers this season. All nine players in the batting order Friday night have six home runs or more.

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