Mariners miss Branyan's big bat

Mariners miss Branyan's big bat

ANAHEIM -- The Mariners are traveling through some of the most treacherous waters the AL West has to offer without their leading home run hitter, but there's a good chance of getting first baseman Russell Branyan back before the regular season ends.

"Everything is real good right now," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He was checked out again [on Wednesday] and he seems to be moving around fine."

The Mariners end their three-game series against the division-leading Angels on Thursday night and it will be their 12th consecutive game without Branyan in the lineup. He has been sidelined since Aug. 28 with a herniated disk in his back.

His departure removed the team's most powerful hitter. Branyan leads the team with a career-best 31 home runs and 76 RBIs.

This trip ends with a three-game series in Arlington against the Wild Card-contending Rangers and when the Mariners return home for a week, Wakamatsu said he hopes Branyan receives medical clearance to take batting practice.

"If he can start working out with us on [on Tuesday], we'll see how fast he can get back," Wakamatsu said. "We won't push it, but there's a strong possibility he will be with us at the end of the year, and that will be important for us -- and him."

Branyan, who signed a one-year, $1.4 million contract with Seattle, becomes eligible for free agency at the end of the World Series.

With the Angels starting right-hander John Lackey in Thursday night's series finale, left-handed-hitting rookie Mike Carp figures to make his second consecutive start at first base.

The series finale also will be the season finale between the Mariners and Angels.

Pitching matchup
SEA: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (3-2, 3.88 ERA)
Rowland-Smith tossed out eight strong innings against the A's in his last start, scattering three runs on just four hits and one walk while striking out four. It marked his first start in Oakland since April 5, when he lasted just 3 1/3 innings after experiencing elbow pain that forced him to miss a good chunk of the season. This will mark the southpaw's first start against the Angels this year.

LAA: RHP John Lackey (9-7, 3.74 ERA)
Lackey helped carry the Angels past Kansas City's Zack Greinke in his last start. Lackey went nine innings and allowed just one run. He also struck out four but drew a no-decision in a game the Angels would win in 11 innings. Lackey has allowed just one earned run in his last 17 innings. He's surrendered three earned runs or less in 15 of his 22 starts this season, and he's gone at least seven innings in eight of his last 11. Lackey has faced Seattle twice in 2009, with both of those starts coming in May. He allowed nine runs in 12 1/3 innings while going 1-1 against the Mariners.

Sea Scrolls
Shortstop Jack Wilson missed Wednesday night's game with the flu and his status for the series finale probably won't be known until sometime Thursday afternoon. He was sent back to the team's hotel prior to Wednesday night's game. ... As of Wednesday night, the Mariners were still awaiting results on the MRI exam taken on right-hander Sean White's pitching shoulder. "There has been some speculation that he is out for the season, but we don't know that yet," Wakamatsu said. "We're crossing our fingers that it's not that serious." ... Unless they absolutely need the work, right-handed relievers Mark Lowe and David Aardsma most likely will appear only in games the Mariners are leading after seven innings. "We can't keep asking them to keep doing what they've been doing in losing situations," Wakamatsu said. ... With two more stolen bases, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez would become the ninth player in franchise history to hit at least 15 home runs and steal 15 bases in the same season. ... The Class-A High Desert team, which captured the first- and second-half championships in the California League, attended Wednesday night's game at Angel Stadium.

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

On television
• FSN

On radio
• 710 ESPN

Up next
• Friday: Mariners (Brandon Morrow, 0-4, 5.28) 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
• Sunday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 14-5, 2.61) at Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 7-3, 3.47), 12:05 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.