The first half of the 2013 season hasn't gone according to plan for the Angels, after they pieced together one of baseball's most talked about offseasons.
But things have turned around as of late for the Halos, who have won 11 of 14 games. They'll look to springboard themselves into the second half with a three-game set in Seattle that begins Friday night.
Right-hander Jerome Williams gets the ball for the Angels, coming off a pair of rough July starts. He gave up seven runs in the second inning against the Cardinals on July 3 and then gave up five runs (four earned) in three-plus innings to the Red Sox three days later.
"I think I'm trying to do too much," Williams said. "Just not controlling counts, not commanding the strike zone early in the game, and I'm not throwing the pitches where I want to throw them. And it's on me."
Left-hander Joe Saunders gets the ball for the Mariners, looking for his first victory over the Angels -- his former team. In two starts, he has allowed just three runs in 14 innings against the Halos, including a complete-game loss on June 19.
Saunders (7-8, 4.51 ERA) spent six seasons with the Angels from 2005-10. During that time, he went 54-32 with a 4.29 ERA.
"I've pitched well against them, just came up on the short end a couple times," he said. "It was a couple 'hang-with-'em' starts. But that's OK. As long as I keep the team in the game, I'm doing my job."
Saunders is optimistic his Mariners will provide more support Friday as their offense has emerged recently. Seattle has the second-highest OPS in the American League in July at .852 through nine games this month.
"We've been swinging the bats really well lately," Saunders said. "If we can be consistent in that respect, I like our chances to really do some things. There's still a lot of time left. It sounds boring, but it's just a matter of doing the little things and that creates big opportunities."
Angels: Kendrick refreshed
Second baseman Howie Kendrick will return to the starting lineup on Friday night, and manager Mike Scioscia is hoping his night off Wednesday, coupled with Thursday's scheduled off-day, will have Kendrick back to his usual self.
"He's playing through some things," Scioscia said. "Hopefully [he'll] finish the weekend strong and have the All-Star break to freshen up a little bit."
Kendrick is hitless in his last 12 at-bats, but he's been one of the Halos' most reliable hitters this season, posting a .308 average.
Mariners: Ibanez's presence key
The offseason signing of Raul Ibanez has worked on many different levels for the Mariners. Ibanez has 22 homers and a .547 slugging percentage.
But, perhaps more importantly, he's been a vital veteran presence in a clubhouse full of youngsters.
"Try to enjoy it as much as you can, because at 41 years old, you can't play this game forever," Ibanez said. "I try to use that approach to play the game, and try to hopefully share that approach with the younger guys."
• Second baseman Nick Franklin sat out Thursday's game with a sore knee, but manager Eric Wedge hopes to have him back on Friday.
• Seattle hasn't won a season series against the Angels since 2003. The Mariners have dropped six of 10 contests against the Halos this season.
• Mike Trout and Kendrick are the first Angels teammates with at least 105 hits before the All-Star break since Darrin Erstad and Mo Vaughn did so in 2000.