Matt Shoemaker will make his Major League debut for the Angels on Friday, with his first start coming against the division-rival Mariners. The 26-year-old right-hander went 11-13 with a 4.64 ERA in 29 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake this year.
But while Friday's game will be the biggest of Shoemaker's career thus far, the rest of the club must find reasons to stay motivated with no hope of postseason play.
"It does get tough," said Jered Weaver, who was scratched from Friday's start due to forearm tightness. "This is the first time I've been in this situation where we've been out of it this early on. Definitely motivation is tough. But at the same time, you have to try to search for things to get you motivated. Playing the spoiler is fun, too. So I've kind of taken that approach."
The Angels expect Weaver to only miss one turn through the rotation, which lines him up to start on Wednesday against the A's.
Los Angeles won't be able to play spoiler against the Mariners, who have struggled in September on their way to a 67-86 record. The Angels swept the Mariners in Seattle in their last meeting (8/23-25), outscoring them, 14-2.
Erasmo Ramirez will take the hill for the Mariners. The 24-year-old had posted a 2.27 ERA over his previous five starts until getting bounced after four innings with five runs on eight hits Sunday in St. Louis.
"He just fell out of his delivery, that was the big thing we saw," said manager Eric Wedge. "And with that, he really lost command of the baseball. When he did throw it over, it really wasn't pitches that were executed. It was more fat and on the plate. So it happened quick."
Angels: Scioscia looking for a strong finish
• Los Angeles may be out of the playoff hunt, but that doesn't mean manager Mike Scioscia is willing to stand by and let his team coast to the finish line. With that in mind, Los Angeles enjoyed one of its best stretches of the season, going 19-7 since Aug. 23.
"You want to keep playing. You want to finish the season as strong as you can, for your own organization to move forward and also for the integrity of the league," Scioscia said. "Within reason. You're certainly going to have in the back of your mind the health of players, which will be part of that equation also."
Mariners: Ibanez still chasing 30 home runs
• Raul Ibanez entered the All-Star break a sure bet to break Ted Williams' record of 29 home runs by a player in their age-41 season. At the time, Ibanez had slugged 24 homers, and still had nearly half the season remaining. Well it took until Tuesday's game against Detroit for the outfielder to hit his 28th home run of the season, bringing him just one shy of Williams' record.
"I've made a couple adjustments and am trying not to do too much," Ibanez said. "Not swing so hard. Swing easier. And it's worked out a little better of late."
While the thought of getting the record is tantalizing, Ibanez says he must fight the urge to simply swing for the fences during every at-bat.
"I fight that a lot," Ibanez said. "I think we all fight it as hitters, trying to not overswing. Just thinking more singles and line drives."
• The Angels haven't dropped a season series against the Mariners since 2003.
• Mariners manager Eric Wedge said shortstop Brad Miller is close to returning, but wouldn't likely be ready for Friday's series opener. That leaves Carlos Triunfel as the starting shortstop.
Friday: RHP Matt Shoemaker (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-2, 4.98)
Saturday: RHP Jerome Williams (8-10, 4.65) vs. LHP Joe Saunders (11-15, 5.16)
Sunday: LHP C.J. Wilson (17-6, 3.36) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (12-9, 3.01)
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.