The Seattle Mariners aim to extend their longest winning streak of the season on Monday night when they begin a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians.
After closing the first half of the season with a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle came out of the break and took all three of its meetings with the Houston Astros, plating 26 runs over the set.
The Mariners logged a 12-5 rout in Sunday's finale, which came one day after they won a 4-2 decision despite having just a single hit. They had 13 hits on Sunday, including the first career grand slam of Nick Franklin's career.
Franklin's homer came during a seven-run second inning, more than enough offensive support for Felix Hernandez to work with. He scatter four hits -- all singles -- over six scoreless innings to lower his earned run average to an AL-best 2.43.
"They made him work, but he did a good job of making pitches," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Hernandez.
Following an extended rest due to the All-Star break, Seattle's Aaron Harang returns to the mound tonight for the first time since July 10.
Harang has won only once in his last five starts and closed his first half with an 11-4 loss to Boston. The righty yielded seven runs over five-plus innings, marking the fifth time this year he has allowed at least five runs in an outing.
"They made me work," Harang said of the Red Sox. "I was falling behind in the count early on and you can't do that with a lineup like that."
The veteran 35-year-old fell to 4-8 with a 5.38 ERA through 15 starts this season and faces the Indians for the first time in 2013. He is 4-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 10 previous encounters.
Cleveland got an excellent pitcher performance of its own in Sunday's 7-1 win over Minnesota, a victory that prevented the Indians from getting swept in the three-game set.
Justin Masterson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ended up allowing one run on one hit with eight strikeouts in his seven-inning outing.
"In the end, we got a victory," Masterson told Cleveland's website. "That's what I want to see. That's what I want."
Jason Kipnis went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI, while Michael Brantley added a three-run triple for a Cleveland club that had won four straight before the All-Star break and trails Detroit by 1 1/2 games for first place in the AL Central.
Hoping to avoid his first loss since June 7 will be Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who has won three times over a seven-start unbeaten streak.
Cleveland has won six of those seven outings, including a 6-4 decision over Kansas City in Jimenez's most recent start on July 14. The 29-year-old was not in top form, however, allowing four runs, eight hits and two walks over four- plus innings of work.
Still, Jimenez avoided the loss and is 7-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 19 starts this season.
Jimenez fanned nine batters over five innings of a no-decision versus Seattle on May 17, yielding a pair of runs. He is 2-0 lifetime in this matchup with a 4.21 ERA in four starts.
The Indians swept the Mariners in a four-game set at Cleveland from May 17-20. They lost four of six in Seattle a season ago.