Astros look to tame resilient Mariners
The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners squared off for the seventh time since Aug. 20 on Monday, and that level of familiarity presents challenges for both, particularly the respective starting pitchers as the teams continue their three-game set in Houston on Tuesday night.
Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. won the game within the game, making the necessary adjustments to keep the Mariners off-balance in the Astros’ 11-2 series-opening win.
McCullers faced Seattle for a second consecutive start and for the fourth time this season. He proved able to work around four hits and four walks over six innings while recording seven strikeouts against a lineup fully aware of his arsenal and exactly how he prefers to utilize it.
“When you face someone a lot they know you and you know them,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Then it’s a matter of the adjustments that you make from start to start. He (McCullers) was exceptional once he settled down. He got out of some jams.”
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.32 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Astros (80-57) on Tuesday. He limited the Mariners to one run on two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over five innings yet took the 1-0 loss on Sept. 1.
Odorizzi has posted 20 strikeouts over his last three starts, two of which have come against Seattle, while going 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA and .631 opponent OPS. He will make his fifth start this season against the Mariners, against whom Odorizzi is 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA.
In 12 career starts against Seattle, Odorizzi is 3-5 with a 4.15 ERA.
Rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.14) will start for Seattle against the Astros. Gilbert did not factor into the decision in the Mariners’ 1-0 win over Houston on Sept. 1, despite allowing just four hits with four strikeouts over five innings.
He went 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA during a nine-start stretch that concluded July 18, recording his first career victory June 6 against the Los Angeles Angels. Gilbert is 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA in two career starts against the Astros, allowing nine runs and 12 hits in 9 2/3 innings.
The Mariners (75-63) fell to 7-10 against the Astros this season with a minus-32 run differential. Seattle has excelled in close games this season with a 29-16 mark in one-run contests. Of the seven wins against Houston this season, three have been by one run, including a pair of 1-0 victories.
But when things go sideways for the Mariners against the Astros, they tend to do so quickly. The setback in the series opener was the latest example and was reminiscent of the Mariners’ previous trip to Houston in August when they dropped the first two games by a combined 27-4 margin.
Seattle has remained in the thick of the postseason picture by virtue of its resilience. More of that trait will be required over the final two games of the season series against the Astros and over the remaining 24 games of the regular season.
“At the end, you look up, it’s an ugly game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Nobody is happy about it. I do know one thing: You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. We’ve had some tough losses this year and we’ve had some tough losses here against the Astros. We’ll get after it (Tuesday) and hopefully have a better outcome.”
— Field Level Media