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SEA@MIA: Maurer strikes out four in one-run outing

First, he pitched the opening five of a 13-inning duel with the Royals Saturday night.

The next day, he was optioned down to Triple-A Salt Lake as lefty Wade LeBlanc was recalled because the game went 13 innings and the Angels needed length out of the bullpen.

By rule, Angels starter Matt Shoemaker wasn't supposed to come back up for at least 10 days unless it was to replace someone headed to the disabled list.

And now, after 13 innings, one option assignment, and just four days, the right-handed Shoemaker is back in the rotation Thursday against the Mariners. After Sean Burnett tore his UCL, the Angels recalled Shoemaker on Wednesday, so he can take his turn Thursday.

"It's good to be back," Shoemaker said. "I definitely feel terrible for [Burnett], man. Just awful."

Shoemaker has a 2.81 ERA in his last three starts, and has pitched just over seven innings against the Mariners, giving up three hits with seven strikeouts.

Though he certainly wasn't hoping to be sent down, Shoemaker did recognize why the Angels made the decision Sunday.

"It's not necessarily a fun thing to get sent down, but just having the right thoughts about it, I definitely understood the move. Whether you like it or not, I understood," Shoemaker said. "It's all part of it. And I think that kind of helped me understanding that to be like, 'Hey, it's not a big deal. I'm fine.' It didn't discourage me one bit, which is good. I was just in good spirits about it."

In facing a lot of lefties in the Mariners, Shoemaker should be able to use his screwball to his advantage, which tails away from lefties.

On the mound for Seattle Thursday night will be Brandon Maurer making his seventh start for the Mariners, who are hoping to get consistency from the 23-year-old right-hander.

Maurer has shown spurts of promise with his mid-90s fastball and some quality off-speed offerings, but he's gotten into trouble in nearly every start at some point and lasted beyond five innings just once while posting a 1-3 record and 6.99 ERA.

The 6-foot-5 Maurer took the loss in his last start against the Astros, giving up six hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Manager Lloyd McClendon would like the youngster to focus on his own game and not worry about the cascade of suggestions and advice he's received from all angles as his struggles have mounted.

"I had a long talk with Maurer about that," McClendon said Wednesday. "Really what I'd like to see him do is just go out and worry about pleasing Brandon. Don't worry about pleasing me or anybody else. Just pitch your game, relax and have fun with it and see what happens. I don't know where it takes us, we'll see, but hopefully it takes us in the right direction.

"Everyone means well," McClendon said. "But sometimes too much information can be damaging. Like I tell hitters, keep it simple. See the ball and hit it. Get the ball and throw it. And we'll see what happens."

Maurer hasn't faced the Angels this season, but pitched against the Halos three times last year as a rookie. One of his best Major League starts came in his first outing against the Angels on April 25 last year when he threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win. But he was hit hard in two other meetings, giving up seven runs and 11 hits in three innings on May 22 and then four hits and two runs in two innings in a long-relief stint on Aug. 24.

Angels: Bullpen could soon be all right-handed
LeBlanc -- 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA in nine Triple-A starts -- has done a better job of pitching inside against opposing left-handed hitters this year, which makes him believe he can be a situational lefty out of the bullpen if needed.

But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday "there's no doubt he needs to be stretched out," which probably means LeBlanc will be back in the Minors in a few days and the Angels will have an all right-handed bullpen.

Lefty Nick Maronde cracked the Opening Day roster, but had a 12.79 ERA in 11 Major League appearances, then a 9.35 ERA in nine Triple-A appearances before getting demoted to Double-A. The only two lefties in the Triple-A bullpen are Brandon Sisk (promoted after a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings in Double-A) and Dustin Richardson (10.12 ERA in 13 1/3 innings).

"There are lefties who aren't pitching with us that would be candidates if they can throw the ball with more consistency," Scioscia said. "There are some good arms, but we're going to see how it goes."

Mariners: Jones on the learning curve
After having his 14-game hitting streak snapped Sunday, rookie center fielder James Jones rolled out another 0-for-5 Tuesday against Angels ace Jered Weaver and his batting average has dropped from .321 to .267 over the last five games going into Wednesday's action.

But McClendon continues to be impressed by the 25-year-old speedster, who was playing Double-A ball a year ago.

"He's getting there," McClendon said. "It's going to be a learning curve. What you have to remember with James, every day is a new day. It's a new experience, a new pitcher, somebody he's never seen before. So his period of adjustment is going to be on a daily basis. But I think he gets passing grades in every category.

"He's going to make some mistakes and show us he's a young player from time to time. But he's also very talented and he can do some good things on the baseball field, particularly with his legs. I know he's going to have some ups and downs, some bumps along the way. The guy yesterday [Weaver] was tough on him. But I suspect if he sees him again he'll do a little better, because he's a good athlete."

Worth noting
• The Mariners signed veteran outfielder Xavier Nady to a Minor League deal Wednesday and will work him in extended spring training in Arizona before moving him up to Triple-A Tacoma. Nady hit .135 with three home runs in 37 at-bats before being released by the Padres earlier this month.

• Mariners left-hander James Paxton had an MRI on his shoulder that showed inflammation. He and the team are approaching his comeback cautiously.

• The Angels are 9-11 against the American League West and 20-11 against everybody else.

• Albert Pujols' 109 total bases entering Wednesday were fifth-most in the American League.

• Fifteen of the Angels' 29 wins this season have been in comeback fashion.

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