ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Seattle Mariners will seek to continue their recent surge at the expense of a reeling divisional opponent when they meet the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night to begin a four-game series at Angel Stadium.
The Mariners enter the series with 10 victories in their past 12 games to move into second place in the American League West. Seattle trails the first-place Texas Rangers by 5 1/2 games in the divisional race and the Boston Red Sox by two games in the competition for the final wild-card spot.
"We are playing loose and we have nothing to lose," Mariners manager Scott Servais told the Seattle Times. "That's how we need to play and that's how we're going to go about it."
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The Angels, however, own a 10-game losing streak, the team's worst since 1999 and the longest in manager Mike Sciocia's 17-year tenure. A four-game weekend sweep in Cleveland proved especially painful. The Indians out-scored Los Angeles 37-12 and stole eight bases in a 13-3 rout Friday night.
Nine of the Angels' 10 losses came on their just-completed road trip, which became the team's worst since 1969 and which began when the Mariners' swept Los Angeles on Aug. 5-7.
Seattle will send right-hander Felix Hernandez to the mound after he recorded one of his best performances of the season Wednesday night.
The American League's Cy Young Award winner in 2010 permitted just one run and three hits in seven innings against the Detroit Tigers, collected eight strikeouts and issued four walks while throwing a season-high 117 pitches. The Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn a 3-1 victory.
"It may have been one of the better outings he's had all year," Servais told the Seattle Times. "He located and kept the ball down. He does not give in late in the game. He's not going to beat himself and he's going to continue to make pitches. That's why he's Felix."
In his past two starts, Hernandez conceded only five runs, six hits and seven walks in 15 innings while amassing 14 strikeouts. The right-hander, who missed seven weeks because of a strained right calf, has 22 strikeouts in his past 20 innings.
Opposing Hernandez is right-hander Ricky Nolasco, making his second start since coming from the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Hector Santiago in a four-player trade Aug. 1.
Nolasco has not won since July 9 but in his last start Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs, he allowed just two runs and one walk in six innings while conceding six hits and striking out six in a 3-1 loss.
"That was a very encouraging start," Scioscia said afterward. "For the most part, he had command of his sinker. He really spun the ball with a couple of different breaking balls, and that's when he's at his best."
Another member of the Angels' rotation will have a more important test Monday. Right-hander Garrett Richards, who went on the disabled list May 2 with an injured ulnar collateral ligament, will have his elbow examined. Richards hopes to avoid Tommy John surgery by relying on stem-cell therapy to regenerate tissue.
"I literally feel like my arm is just refreshed," Richards told the Orange County Register. "Everything feels great. My shoulder feels nice and loose. I feel zero discomfort in my arm, nothing even close to what I was feeling when I was put on the DL."
After an MRI on Aug. 3 showed continued progress, Richards started intensifying his limited rehabilitation program.
"I'm just continuing to do my internal rotational stuff, staying on my lifting and doing more exercises that simulate more throwing motions," Richards told MLB.com. "I'm doing a lot of weighted-ball stuff in a throwing motion, so that's added stress more than a normal baseball would. Everything feels completely normal. I'm hopeful that this works."