Thursday, May 24th (All times Eastern)
LA Angels of Anaheim (20-25) at Seattle Mariners (21-25), 10:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: LA Angels - Dan Haren (1-5, 4.37) Seattle - Jason Vargas (5-3, 3.34)
(Sports Network) - The Angels still have quite a hill to climb if they want to challenge for the American League West title. Getting out of last place would be a great start.
Los Angeles can do just that tonight as it opens a four-game series against the third-place Seattle Mariners.
The Angels were expected to be at the top of the standings after adding both first baseman Albert Pujols and starter C.J. Wilson through free agency this offseason. However, Pujols has struggled offensively and Los Angeles comes into Thursday five games under .500 at 20-25. That leaves the club seven games back of first-place Texas and a half-game behind Seattle for third place.
Getting Dan Haren going will be key for the Angels as the former All-Star is just 1-5 with a 4.37 earned run average through nine starts and is currently riding a four-game losing streak.
The Angels were shut out in each of the first three games of Haren's slide, not giving the right-hander much of a chance to find the win column, and only managed to plate two runs in his outing on Saturday versus the Padres. It wasn't enough in a 3-2 loss as Haren was charged with all three runs over 6 2/3 frames.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win games," Haren told the Angels' website. "I'm frustrated to be sitting at 1-5. I'm not happy about it, and the team's not happy with where we're at."
The Angels are averaging 2.3 runs per game in Haren's starts, but the 31-year- old does have good career numbers versus the Mariners, going 10-5 with a 2.60 ERA in 19 meetings.
Los Angeles does have a chance to win three in a row for the first time since May 5-7 in tonight's opener. It snapped a three-game slide with Tuesday's shut out win over Oakland, then won the series on Wednesday thanks to a 3-1 victory in 11 innings.
Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run double in the deciding inning and Maicer Izturis had an RBI single earlier in the game as the Angels nearly wasted another solid effort from starter Jered Weaver.
Weaver did not factor into the decision, allowing one run on three hits over eight innings.
"It's our job to keep us in the game and that's what I did for the most part," Weaver said.
Seattle remained ahead of Los Angeles in the standings thanks to Wednesday's 5-3 win over Texas, giving the Mariners a series victory of their own as well as a win in five of six since a four-game slide.
Kevin Millwood followed up his first shutout in nearly nine years with six scoreless innings of two-hit ball. The Seattle starter has not allowed a run in 17 2/3 frames.
"Confidence has been building for the last couple weeks," Millwood said. "So I felt like when I got out there, I felt like i was going to have a good game and throw the ball well. Confidence goes a long way in this game and that's what I'm working on right now."
Alex Liddi smacked his first career grand slam for the Mariners, who turn to left-hander Jason Vargas in this opener.
Vargas is coming off a win over the Rockies on Saturday as he allowed three runs on five hits and a walk in seven innings of work. The 29-year-old did not allow a run over the first six frames and won a 10-3 decision after the Mariners had scored just seven runs in his previous four outings.
Vargas is 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 10 starts this season, six of those quality outings, and that includes a 2-0 mark and 1.27 ERA in three home starts.
In 10 career meetings with the Angels, including nine starts, Vargas is 3-3 with a 2.39 ERA.
The Angels won 12 of 19 versus the Mariners last season, though went 4-5 in Seattle. They have won 30 of the last 41 encounters overall.
05/24 11:01:15 ET