While things haven't really gone Jered Weaver's way this year, he's starting to find his groove.
He could, however, be in for a challenge against the red-hot Raul Ibanez, who has had his number over the years.
Weaver pitches opposite Felix Hernandez in a marquee matchup as the visiting Los Angeles Angels continue a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
After winning a career-high 20 games in 2012, Weaver (3-4, 3.38 ERA), who missed over seven weeks with a fractured left elbow earlier this year, went 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA in his first seven starts. The right-hander, though, has come around in last three, going 2-0 while allowing two runs in 20 2-3 innings.
Weaver struck out six over 6 2-3 innings of five-hit ball to beat Boston 3-0 on Sunday, winning back-to-back outings for the first time this year.
"It's the best stuff that Jered's had all season, so it's a good time for it," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB's official website.
Weaver lost each of his three matchups against the Mariners (41-52) last year, dropping to 12-7 with a 3.21 ERA in the series. He is 2-3 with a 2.20 ERA in his last five starts at Safeco Field.
Weaver can't be looking forward to facing Ibanez, who is 14 for 30 with four homers and two doubles in their matchups. The 41-year-old Ibanez continues to turn heads, going 25 for 70 (.357) with 10 homers, 18 RBIs and 15 runs in his last 17 games.
Ibanez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading 23rd and 24th homers as Seattle took Friday's opener 8-3 to snap a three-game skid.
"What hasn't he done," winning pitcher Joe Saunders said. "From my perspective, it's fun to be part of. To see what he's doing day in and day out, it's impressive.
"I just hope he can keep it going. He's the heart and soul of this ball club, really, the way he goes about preparing, the teammate he is, the leader he is."
Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales also went deep for the Mariners, who broke the franchise record by homering in their 20th consecutive game. Seattle has left the yard 35 times over that stretch, the most in the majors since June 20.
The Mariners now turn to Hernandez (9-4, 2.69), who has posted the AL's second-highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.23) - behind only teammate Hisashi Iwakuma (5.89).
Hernandez is looking to win a season-high fifth consecutive decision after yielding two runs in seven innings Monday in an 11-4 victory over Boston.
"He wasn't as tough as I've seen him in the past when he was throwing 96-97, but he still is a great pitcher," Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of Hernandez, who struck out six. "He goes out there and throws all his pitches for strikes and still gets of lot of swings and misses."
Hernandez is 7-12 versus Los Angeles with a 4.12 ERA - his second-highest mark against any team he has faced more than once. Hernandez has allowed at least five runs in five of his last seven starts in the series.
While Mike Trout is 14 for 30 with a homer, two doubles and a triple versus Hernandez, Josh Hamilton is 8 for 53 with 16 strikeouts.
Mariners rookie infielder Nick Franklin has missed the last two games with a right knee injury but he could return Saturday. He is hitting .327 with a homer, six doubles and 10 RBIs over a 13-game stretch at home.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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