Seattle's bid for its first playoff berth in 12 years resumes Friday when the Mariners visit the Los Angeles Angels for the start of a three-game series. The Mariners stand eight games behind American League West-leading Oakland, but they hold a 2 1/2-game lead in the race for the second wild card. Los Angeles sits 1 1/2 games behind Oakland after posting a major league-best 26-9 record since June 6.All-Star MVP Mike Trout leads the Angels in most every offensive category, including batting average (.310), home runs (22) and RBIs (73). He's received plenty of help over the past month from rookie designated hitter C.J. Cron, left fielder Josh Hamilton and first baseman Albert Pujols, who had four homers and 20 RBIs in his last 19 games before the All-Star break. Seattle has been led by second baseman Robinson Cano, who has lived up to expectations while batting .334 with 57 RBIs.TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), FSN West (Los Angeles)PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners LH Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.98 ERA) vs. Angels RH Jered Weaver (10-6, 3.45)Iwakuma entered the All-Star break on a hot streak, going 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA over his last three starts with 25 strikeouts and no walks. The 33-year-old, who is 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Angels, said he's fully healthy after dealing with several injuries early in the season. "I feel great right now," Iwakuma told MLB.com. " I feel like the momentum is there. I feel like I can start off the second half the same way. Hopefully I can keep this going."After being limited to two innings in his previous start due to lower back tightness, Weaver gave himself a clean bill of health after tossing seven strong frames against Texas last Saturday. "Everything felt great," Weaver told reporters. "I didn't feel restricted or worried about it. It's nice to come out of it unscathed." Justin Smoak is 9-for-31 with three homers against the 31-year-old, who is 14-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 29 career starts against Seattle.WALK-OFFS1. Angels closer Joe Smith has retired 26 of the last 27 batters he's faced.2. Seattle opened the season in Anaheim and outscored the Angels by a combined score of 26-8 during a three-game sweep.3. Mariners closer Fernando Rodney is one save away from 200 for his career.PREDICTION: Mariners 4, Angels 3
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