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Mariners excel with makeshift rotation

Mariners excel with makeshift rotation

ANAHEIM -- It doesn't really surprise manager Don Wakamatsu that the Mariners have the lowest ERA (4.01) in the American League this season.

But it does cause him some head-scratching that only one of his starting pitchers -- right-hander Felix Hernandez -- has logged at least 100 innings.

"That's the thing that amazes me," he said. "We set out in Spring Training to get three guys with 200 innings."

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Hernandez reached the 200-inning mark Tuesday and left-hander Jarrod Washburn probably would have if he had not been traded to the Tigers on July 31. The other 200-inning candidates coming out of camp were right-handers Carlos Silva (28 2/3 innings), left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith (62 2/3 innings) and lefty Erik Bedard (83 innings).

All three encountered injuries that caused them to spend more time on the disabled list than on the mound.

"We've had some young pitchers come up and have won some games for us," Wakamatsu said. "We will go into next year with more choices than we had last Spring Training."

The Mariners have had 15 pitchers start at least one game this season, and that number will increase by one when converted closer Brandon Morrow returns from Triple-A Tacoma later this month.

It doesn't seem that long ago when Seattle went through an entire season with just five starters.

Right-hander Ian Snell, acquired from the Pirates in July, makes his eighth start for Seattle in Wednesday night's game against the Angels.

He has won four consecutive starts with his new team after winning just twice in 11 decisions with the Pirates.

"It's a lot of fun playing for a winning team," Snell said. "I'm just happy to be alive again and by being alive I mean being renewed, being refreshed."

The middle game of the three-game series also features the return to the lineup of designated hitter Ken Griffey Jr. He has been nursing a sore left knee, but Wakamatsu said the 39-year-old was good to go against the Angels and right-hander Jered Weaver.

Griffey, who was limping ever-so-slightly prior to Tuesday night's series opener, pinch-hit in the ninth inning and has played in three of Seattle's past 10 games.

The headline story, however, is Ichiro Suzuki's continuing pursuit of his ninth straight 200-hit season. He went hitless in Tuesday night's series opener and needs five hits to become the first player in MLB history to have nine consecutive 200-hit seasons.

Pitching matchup
SEA: RHP Ian Snell (6-9, 5.21 ERA)
Despite picking up a win in his last start, against the A's, Snell admitted after the game he was far from perfect while struggling with command of his fastball, sinker and changeup. He scattered three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and four walks while striking out four through five innings. This will mark Snell's first career start against the Angels.

LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (14-5, 3.79 ERA)
Weaver established a career high with his 14th win against the Royals in his last start. He also had his third scoreless outing his last four starts. Weaver threw seven scoreless innings against Kansas City, scattering nine hits while striking out six. That performance came on the heels of six shutout innings against Oakland on Aug. 29. Throw in Weaver's shutout against the Indians on Aug. 19, and he's been one of the league's hottest pitchers over the last three weeks. Weaver has made two starts against Seattle in 2009 with both of those coming in April. He's 1-1 against the Mariners and has allowed four earned runs in 12 innings.

Sea Scrolls
The Mariners have scored in the first inning in nine of their past 14 games and outscored their opponents, 23-7, in the first two innings. In 51 games since the All-Star break, Seattle has scored 37 runs in the opening inning, compared to 39 in the 81 games prior to the break. ... The Mariners went into their series opener against the Angels with an MLB-leading 29 one-run victories this season. That's just two shy of the club record, set in 1982. ... Monday's off-day ended a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. ... Closer David Aardsma is just the ninth pitcher in MLB history to have at least 30 saves without having at least one previous save heading into the season.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• 710 ESPN

Up next
• Thursday: Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 3-2, 3.88) at Angels (John Lackey, 9-7, 3.74), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Friday: Mariners (Luke French, 4-5, 5.05) at Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 10-9, 3.77), 5:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Mariners (Doug Fister, 2-1, 2.79) at Rangers (Derek Holland, 7-10, 5.93), 5:05 p.m. PT

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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