The Los Angeles Angels were 4 1/2 games behind the Seattle Mariners when they opened a three-game series three weeks ago. When the Angels return to Seattle on Tuesday to begin another three-game set, they’ll be 11 games behind the Mariners for the second wild card from the American League.
The Mariners (54-31) swept the Angels the last time they were in town, and Seattle expanded that cushion by going 7-0 last week for their longest winning streak of the season.
The Angels (43-42) are 6-14 since pulling within 3 1/2 games of the Mariners on June 9. They lost to the Minnesota Twins the following day before getting swept June 11-13 in Seattle. Los Angeles has already played six games at Safeco Field this season but has yet to host the Mariners in Anaheim.
If the Angels drop the series opener, they’ll own a .500 record for the first time since the second game of the season.
The scheduled starting pitchers for Tuesday were also matched up on June 11.
Los Angeles left-hander Andrew Heaney (4-5, 3-95 ERA) gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings of the 5-3 loss.
Seattle left-hander Wade LeBlanc (3-0, 3.38) gave up two runs and four hits in five innings in his only career appearance against Seattle.
LeBlanc, who made 10 appearances for the Angels in 2014, including three starts, hasn’t experienced a defeat in 11 starts this season, and the Mariners are 8-3 in those games.
The Mariners have also found something special in closer Edwin Diaz, who became the second pitcher in major league history with at least 30 saves and 70 strikeouts before the All-Star break. The other is former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne.
“We’ve had a lot of valuable players on our team,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told reporters after a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. “But winning the close games, it creates the type of atmosphere that’s going on at Safeco Field right now and the city and getting our fan base psyched again.”
Heaney also struggled in his most recent outing, allowing six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 9-6 loss on Wednesday at the Boston Red Sox, but he did not absorb the loss.
He’s 1-2 in four career starts against the Mariners with a 4.42 ERA.
The Angels lost two more pitchers to injury on their current road trip.
Jake Jewell sustained a broken right fibula against the Red Sox on Wednesday. The rookie right-hander was making his third major-league appearance when he fell awkwardly while trying to cover home plate on a wild pitch. He had surgery on Friday in Los Angeles.
On Saturday, the Angels announced left-hander John Lamb would undergo Tommy John surgery, the fourth pitcher for Los Angeles to have the season-ending surgery this year.
Los Angeles could soon be adding some offensive punch, however.
Shohei Ohtani, the rookie two-way player who is also out with an elbow injury, has been taking live batting practice and running the bases recently, putting him on pace to resume designated hitter duties this week.
“He’s starting to do get through that progression,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told FOX Sports West on Sunday.
Angels first baseman/designated hitter Jefry Marte is also close to returning from a left wrist injury.