A pair of aces are set to square off in the second contest of a three-game series on Saturday night as the Seattle Mariners play host to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field.
Jered Weaver's first half was derailed by missing the better part of two months with a broken elbow, but even when he has toed the rubber for Los Angeles, he hasn't been his usual dominant self, sporting a 3-4 record with a 3.38 ERA.
Weaver has hit his stride in recent weeks, however, allowing just two earned runs over his last 20 2/3 innings. He has won back-to-back starts, including a gem on July 7 where he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out six.
It was Weaver's first start since becoming a father on July 5, when he named his first child Aden in honor of his former teammate Nick Adenhart, who passed away in April 2009 from injuries sustained after a car he was in was hit by a drunk driver.
"In the back on my mind I was anxious to get back over to the hospital," Weaver said following his latest win. "It'll be fun to pick him up and cuddle with him."
Despite his impressive career, Weaver has not enjoyed pitching in Safeco Field, going 5-6 with a 4.58 ERA over the course of his eight-year career.
The Mariners will counter with their All-Star right-hander Felix Hernandez, who's been outstanding yet again in 2013 at 9-4 with a 2.69 ERA. Despite being named to four career All-Star teams, Hernandez is attempting to reach double- digit first-half wins for the first time in his career.
Hernandez is fresh off a victory against the Red Sox, pitching seven innings while allowing two earned runs and striking out six. It was the third straight start in which he has allowed two runs over seven innings of work.
The 27-year-old experienced his worst start of the season the last time he faced the Angels, allowing 12 hits and six earned runs in five innings on June 20, although he escaped the outing with a no-decision.
In the series opener on Friday night, the Mariners used four home runs to power past the Angels, 8-3.
Raul Ibanez continued to defy Father Time by going 3-for-4 with a pair of homers. The 42-year-old now has 24 long balls, more than he's had in any season since belting 34 with Philadelphia in 2009.
Kyle Seager also left the yard for the Mariners, his 15th of the year. Kendrys Morales chipped in his 14th round tripper as well.
Joe Saunders (8-8) pulled his record even on the year after tossing seven shutout innings, striking out five while walking two.
Jerome Williams (5-5) failed to make it out of the fourth inning, surrendering seven hits and six earned runs in losing his third consecutive decision.
Down 8-0 in the eighth, the Angels tacked on three late runs to avoid the shutout. Mike Trout was 2-for-3 with an RBI triple, while Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo also knocked in runs.
The Mariners had dropped five of the previous six matchups with the Angels this season.