Both the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners were pegged as preseason playoff contenders. Time's almost up on one, and it may be running out on the other.
The Angels look to rebound from a potentially devastating loss as they begin a critical road trip Monday night against the Mariners.
Los Angeles (72-70) appeared to be climbing in both the AL West and wild-card standings after winning the first two games of its weekend series with division-leading Houston. The Angels were one strike away from a sweep Sunday before usually dependable closer Huston Street allowed five ninth-inning runs in a stunning 5-3 loss.
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The Angels fell three games behind Texas for the second wild card and 4 1/2 back of the Astros.
Los Angeles still has a chance to gain ground on two of its competitors on this nine-game trip. It concludes the trek with three games in Houston after three at Minnesota, which is two in front of the Angels in the wild-card race.
''We've got to turn the page on this one,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''Sometimes that page is heavy, like it was (Sunday), but we have to turn it. Huston has been there for us all year, and we'll need him again.''
Seattle (69-75) is more of a longshot, trailing the Rangers by seven games, and failed to help its very slim hopes by losing two of three at home to lowly Colorado this weekend. The Mariners didn't record an extra-base hit and had just five total in Sunday's 3-2 defeat.
They'll attempt to bounce back behind Taijuan Walker (10-8, 4.70 ERA), who is coming off a dismal performance. In Tuesday's 9-6 home loss to Texas, he permitted three homers and five earned runs over three-plus innings to match his shortest outing of the season.
"He threw up a clunker," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website. "He wasn't very good."
Walker had yielded three homers total over a seven-start unbeaten sequence preceding that game, compiling a 3-0 record and 3.26 ERA.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two prior season matchups with the Angels, who reached Walker for six earned runs in five innings of a 10-3 victory at Safeco Field July 12.
Mike Trout, who hit his 35th home run Sunday, is 4 for 5 with a homer off Walker. David Freese (4 for 6 with two doubles) and Erick Aybar (3 for 4 with two doubles) also have had success.
C.J. Cron is 0 for 2 against Walker but homered twice Sunday and finished 4 for 6 with three homers in the final two games against Houston.
Garrett Richards (13-10, 3.71) draws the assignment for Los Angeles in search of a fourth consecutive quality start. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.05 ERA during that stretch and matched a season high with 11 strikeouts over 7 2-3 innings Wednesday while holding the Dodgers to two runs and four hits.
Richards is 4-2 with a 2.24 ERA in eight career starts against Seattle and had won three straight decisions prior to allowing a season-high 12 hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 road loss July 9.
The Angels are 8-5 in the season series and won four of seven meetings in Seattle.