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BAL@SEA: Felix fans eight over eight frames

LaTroy Hawkins and Chris Iannetta should know a thing or two about September Wild Card comebacks. They were members of the 2007 Rockies squad that overcame a six-game deficit and -- perhaps more impressively -- three teams ahead of them in the standings.

Five years later, the two find themselves in need of yet another improbable September run, this time with the Angels. Heading into Wednesday's game against the Mariners, the Angels trail Oakland by two, a deficit that had stretched as high as 4 1/2 earlier this month.

"Being on a team like I was in '07, me and Iannetta, where we went on a long run, I know it's still a possibility," Hawkins said. "It's been done before. And this team is way better than the team I played on, that's for [darn] sure. Way better. So, I know we can go on some type of run like that."

So far their run hasn't been too shabby: a 23-9 record since Aug. 21 leads the American League. But their hot streak faces a significant challenge on Wednesday, when they face Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, who has an outside shot at the AL Cy Young Award.

That candidacy took a bit of a hit with three-straight losses earlier this month, but he bounced back in his last start with eight strong innings of one-run ball.

"It was just something mechanical," Hernandez said. "My last couple games, nothing was working, and I was leaving pitches over the middle. But this time I was following through at home plate and executing pitches."

Hernandez (13-8, 2.85 ERA) will make each of his last two starts against the Angels, one of the few teams that has consistently given him trouble. He's 6-11 in 28 starts with a 3.89 ERA against the Angels in his career, his lowest winning percentage and second-highest ERA of any team he's faced more than once. This season he's allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in two starts totaling 13 innings.

Opposite Hernandez will be Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, who gave up three runs and lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his last start. The next day, he, manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher had a closed-door strategy meeting.

None of the three parties discussed specifics of the meeting, but it essentially boiled down to Wilson (12-10, 3.82 ERA) trying to keep things simple.

"Really just go out there and pound the strike zone, really," Wilson said. "... Pretty much keeping it simple. Going out there and breaking it down to one pitch at a time and not trying to do too much. Keep the emotion out of the game and just going out there and just doing the little things, one pitch at a time."

Mariners: Ackley returns
• Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley missed two games over the weekend with a sore neck, but he returned to the lineup Tuesday against the Angels and went 1-for-5 with a double and four strikeouts.

"It's a lot better," Ackley said. "I probably could have played Sunday, but it was one of those situations where we had the next day off, and they wanted to give me that extra day to try to get better."

Ackley, who noted that his neck is still not at 100 percent still leads the club in at-bats with 576 in his first full season.

Angels: Dipoto pleased with Morales' production
• Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has gotten more than he could have hoped for out of DH Kendrys Morales this year, after Morales underwent two ankle surgeries that forced him to miss the majority of two seasons.

"We couldn't even really comfortably pencil in an idea of what Kendrys might deliver," Dipoto said. "We entered Spring Training only hopeful that he'd be back."

Instead, Morales has provided plenty of production in his 114 games played. (He generally sits against left-handers.) He's hitting .275 with 22 homers and a .798 OPS.

Worth noting
• Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .375 with a homer, five RBIs and an OPS of .984 against Wilson in 19 career plate appearances.

• Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen has recorded a save in all eight of Seattle's September victories.

• Since 2007, the Angels have beaten the Mariners 73 times (73-36). Those are the most victories by one team over another during that span.

• Hernandez is just 2-5 in his career at Angel Stadium, but he has posted a 3.21 ERA there. Comments