Felix Hernandez is on the verge of becoming the Seattle Mariners' career strikeout leader. Whether he gets the chance to attain that milestone Saturday night remains to be seen.
Scratched from the series opener because of an illness, Hernandez and the visiting Mariners hope he's ready to continue his recent success over the Los Angeles Angels in the continuation of this three-game series.
"We'll see how he is," Seattle manager Scott Servais told MLB's official website. "Fingers crossed, hopefully he's OK."
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Dealing with what has been described as either the flu or a bad head cold, Hernandez (1-1, 1.00 ERA) is tied with Randy Johnson for the most strikeouts in club history at 2,162. The right-hander also is one win away from matching Jamie Moyer's franchise record of 145.
"It's pretty odd for Felix. He takes the ball no matter what," said Servais, who is back in Anaheim where he spent the past four years as the assistant general manager to current Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto.
''He did not feel good at all, and I've got to trust the training staff here. They told me it would be best to give him a day off and make sure he's got his legs under him.''
If Hernandez is unable to go, Mike Montgomery could be in line to make his first 2016 start after posting a 4.15 ERA in five relief appearances. The left-hander went 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 16 starts as a rookie for Seattle (8-8) last season. He allowed five runs and eight hits, including a three-run homer to Mike Trout, in five-plus innings of a 7-3 loss to the Angels on July 10.
Hernandez, who overcame six walks to yield one run over five innings of last Saturday's 3-2 win at Yankee Stadium, is 7-2 with a 1.37 ERA and 114 strikeouts in his last 14 starts against the Angels (7-10). He's 3-0 in his last 11 at Anaheim, and has a 1.26 ERA in the last seven there.
The surging Mariners improved to 7-3 away from home by snapping a five-game road skid to Los Angeles with Friday's 5-2, 10-inning victory. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer in the 10th for Seattle, which has won three in a row and six of eight since losing the first five on its opening homestand.
Cruz is batting .333 in nine road games and has five RBIs in the last two. However, he's 2 for 10 against Hector Santiago (1-0, 2.61).
The Angels left-hander looks to build on a stellar outing Monday, when he allowed two hits and struck out 10 over seven innings of a 7-0 road victory over the Chicago White Sox.
"That was the best stuff I've seen Hector have since he's been with us,'' Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said of Santiago, who was acquired in a December 2013 trade that included the White Sox and Arizona.
Santiago went 1-0 in two 2015 starts against the Mariners, allowing one run over seven innings of each.
While Trout is hitting .354 with four homers, three doubles and two triples against Hernandez, Albert Pujols is batting .208 with 13 strikeouts in 53 at-bats when facing the Mariners' ace.
Trout was 1 for 4 on Friday after going 5 for 6 in the previous two contests.
Pujols is 0 for 19 in the last five games, dropping his average to .138.