Pitching is a major problem for the Los Angeles Angels, but Garrett Richards is providing some hope for improvement.
The Seattle Mariners are regrouping around rookie right-hander Brandon Maurer following a team meeting.
Richards attempts to build on the best performance by an Angels starter this season, as he takes the mound in the opener of a four-game series in Seattle on Thursday night.
Los Angeles (8-12) has a 4.88 ERA - 5.35 from the rotation - ranking ahead of only Houston's 5.19 in the majors.
Seattle (8-15) isn't much better with a 4.65 ERA to rank 28th.
Los Angeles, though, is expected to be a pennant contender with one of the highest payrolls in baseball at $148.5 million.
Richards (1-0, 2.55 ERA), who makes $495,000, turned in the best effort for the Angels so far, and he's getting his third start in place of Jered Weaver, who is on the disabled list with a broken left elbow.
Richards had a career high-tying eight strikeouts and yielded two hits in seven innings of a 10-0 home win over Detroit on Saturday. The right-hander also benefited from the offense staking him to a nine-run lead in the opening inning.
"I don't pay attention to the score. I try to pitch the same, whether it's 9-0 or 0-0," Richards said.
He's 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in six games against Seattle. The victory came in his only start against the AL West rival, yielding one run in seven innings last June.
The Angels, 7-3 at Seattle last year, could use another strong start from Richards since the rotation has a 6.04 ERA since his latest outing.
That includes Wednesday's 11-3 defeat to Texas, as Michael Roth was tagged for five runs in 3 1-3 innings of his first career start. The rookie was filling in for Tommy Hanson, who is on the bereavement list following a death in his family.
Manager Eric Wedge may be hoping the Mariners respond from a team meeting held after losing 10-3 at Houston on Wednesday, capping a 1-5 road trip.
Seattle's pitchers compiled a 6.61 ERA - 7.59 from the starters - over that stretch.
"It's been a bad road trip, and we are not off to the start we'd like, for sure," Wedge said. "But we have the players in there to be a good team, and that is what bothers me more than anything. We just have to peck away and get this thing turned around."
Maurer (1-3, 7.45) will try to start that process as he faces Los Angeles for the first time. The rookie has yielded two runs in each of his past two outings - both against the Rangers - after surrendering 12 over the first two.
He turned in his best performance of the season Saturday, yielding only a pair of solo homers in 6 2-3 innings in a 5-0 loss at Texas.
"I've been really happy with his last two starts," Wedge told the team's official website. "I think he sees the game differently now than when he first came up, which is very common for a young starting pitcher."
Seattle's Kyle Seager is batting .383 with seven doubles, two homers and eight RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak. The third baseman is a career .198 hitter against the Angels, but is 4 for 9 with two doubles, a homer, two RBIs and four runs over the last two matchups.
He's also 2 for 4 versus Richards.
Los Angeles' Josh Hamilton is 6 for 12 following a 1-for-21 slump, but hit .182 in six games in Seattle last season.