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James Paxton aims for 8th straight win in Mariners-Angels opener

James Paxton has a 2.70 ERA and has established himself a dark horse for the Cy Young. (AP)

James Paxton will take a crack at his eighth straight win when the Mariners open a huge four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at 7:10 on 710 ESPN Seattle. And this time around, he won’t have to play the role of stopper.

Of Paxton’s seven straight wins entering Thursday’s game, four have come after the Mariners lost their previous game. The Mariners start their homestand Thursday having won two straight and four of their last five.

Moore: Mariners keep finding ways to defy the odds

With a 12-3 record, 2.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in 113 1/3 innings, the 28-year-old left-hander has established himself as a dark horse in the Cy Young Award race. But even more important, he’s been the one starting pitcher the Mariners have been able to rely on for the last month as they’ve put together the best record in the American League since the All-Star break and moved into the AL’s second wild-card spot.

It will be an all-lefty matchup on Thursday as the Angels will start Tyler Skaggs on the mound. The Angels, who are one game under .500, start the series trailing the M’s by two games in the wild-card chase.

In Seattle’s lineup, Danny Valencia will play first base and hit second with a southpaw pitching for the opposition, so newly-acquired Yonder Alonso will be a pinch-hit option.

In roster news, the Mariners sent catcher Tuffy Gosewisch outright to Triple-A Tacoma, indicating that he cleared waivers. Gosewisch, who went 2 for 28 in 11 games for Seattle earlier this season but has spent the majority of the year with the Rainiers, was designated for assignment last Sunday after the Mariners acquired pitcher Ryan Garton and catcher Mike Marjama in a five-player trade.

Game coverage Thursday begins on 710 ESPN Seattle with the pregame show at 6. Here are the full lineups.

Mariners (59-56)

Jean Segura, SS
Danny Valencia, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Guillermo Heredia, LF
Ben Gamel, RF
Mike Zunino, C
Jarrod Dyson, CF

James Paxton, LHP

Angels (57-58)

Cameron Maybin, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
C.J. Cron, 1B
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Jefry Marte, 3B
Kole Calhoun, RF
Martin Maldonado, C
Kaleb Cowart, 2B

Tyler Skaggs, LHP