Best in the West

Finishing with baseball's best regular-season record may not be the ultimate goal for the Los Angeles Angels, but it wouldn't be a bad way to enter the postseason.

The Angels can move another step closer to the AL West title on Thursday night when they open a four-game series against their closest pursuers - the Seattle Mariners.

Ervin Santana was outstanding as a late replacement for Bartolo Colon on Wednesday, and Juan Rivera homered as the Angels completed a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay with a 2-1 victory.

With Colon a late scratch from his scheduled start due to back stiffness, Santana filled in by allowing one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings with 10 strikeouts.

Los Angeles (90-62) reduced its magic number for clinching its third division title in four years to three.

The Angels, who won by a 2-1 score for the second straight day, reached the 90-win mark for the eighth time in franchise history and the fourth time in the last six years.

"It's good to win when you're not scoring a lot of runs,'' said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who is one victory shy of 700 for his career.

With the win, the Angels moved into a tie with Cleveland for the best record in baseball, one-half game ahead of slumping Boston.

Rivera could see more playing time in right field with Vladimir Guerrero limited to DH duties due to right triceps tendinitis.

Keeping Guerrero healthy is imperative for the Angels, who have also been without center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. for the last seven games because of a sprained right ankle.

The Angels have won 11 of 15 games against the Mariners this season, including five of six at home.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Los Angeles -200 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -200 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Although they are almost out of playoff contention, the Mariners (81-70) have played much better lately.

Yuniesky Betancourt had four hits and three RBIs Wednesday as Seattle completed a three-game sweep at Oakland with a 9-5 victory.

The Mariners have won three straight and six of eight, but trail the Angels by 8 1/2 games due largely to a 2-15 stretch from Aug. 15-Sept. 11.

"Right now, it's business out there," Seattle's Raul Ibanez said. "It's unfortunate that we put ourselves in this position. We can just try to alter the future in a positive way."

Ichiro Suzuki continued to pursue his third AL batting title, going 2-for-3 Wednesday to increase his average to .354, one point ahead of Detroit's Magglio Ordonez.

Suzuki is 20-for-49 (.408) with 10 runs scored and eight RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak - his fourth streak of at least 10 games this year.

Jered Weaver (12-7, 3.90 ERA) seeks his fifth win in six starts for Los Angeles. The right-hander surpassed the win total from his 2006 rookie season with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, allowing one run and four hits in six innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Weaver has held opponents to two runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts, including an Aug. 29 outing against the Mariners. He limited Seattle to two runs and seven hits in eight innings of an 8-2 victory at Safeco Field.

Weaver improved to 3-1 with a 4.34 ERA in six career starts versus the Mariners.

Ibanez, though, is 8-for-16 with a home run against Weaver.

Ryan Feierabend (1-4, 6.80) makes his first start in nearly a month for Seattle. The second-year left-hander is taking the place of Horacio Ramirez, who was bumped from the rotation after failing to record an out Saturday against Tampa Bay.

In his most recent start July 24 at Texas, Feierabend gave up two runs and six hits in five innings of a 2-1 loss.

Feierabend made his only start against the Angels on May 29, when he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 defeat.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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