Angels, Mariners Open Season With High Expectations in AL West

The battle for top spot in the AL Western Division might come down to the two teams facing off on Opening Day

The Angels will open the 2015 season on the road Monday against an American League Western Division foe and pitcher who knows how to handle the pace and hoopla of Opening Day.

Each of the past six years, Seattle's Felix Hernandez has taken the ball and been on the mound in the season opener for the Mariners. All six times, those starts have been on the road.

It'll be just the second time in his career that Hernandez has been the starter at home to begin the season -- he's never lost on opening day.

"I think it's going to be different than 2007. First of all, we've got a better offense, we've got a better team," Hernandez said. "So it's going to be fun. It's going to be awesome."

It's been more than a decade since Seattle has entered a season with the kinds of expectations it has received this spring before Hernandez has thrown that first pitch. Some observers believe Seattle will not only dethrone the Angels from the top of the AL West, but might be the most complete team in the American League and make its first World Series appearance.

The Angels will still have something to say about Seattle rise to the top of the AL West, beginning with sending ace Jered Weaver to the mound on Monday. Weaver will be making his 32nd career start against the Mariners and is 14-10 all-time. But since the start of the 2012 season, Weaver has lost six of eight decisions against Seattle.

The Angels are still very much the same team that had the best record in baseball last season, with the best player in the American League with reigning MVP Mike Trout. But the Angels were swept out of the ALDS by Kansas City last fall.


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"I think the guys probably still think about it. It was a time where for some guys, it was their first playoff experience and a time we thought we had a shot to do some more special things, but we kind of ran into a Mack truck in the Royals," Angels third baseman David Freese said. "But I think you turn the page quick. Everybody understood that it was a successful season and we brought the division title back here."

Seattle held a brief workout at Safeco Field on Sunday night mostly to get use to the new LED lighting being used at the stadium this season. Seattle is the first team in baseball to install LED lights at its home stadium joining a list in other sports that included NRG Stadium in Houston, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and Staples Center in Los Angeles among venues making the switch.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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