Granted an opportunity to widen their cushion over the visiting Seattle Mariners in the American League West, the Houston Astros were pressed to leave the lethargy of their recent road trip far behind.
After scoring two or fewer runs three times during a four-game skid that bridged stops in Anaheim and Kansas City, the Astros scored at least two runs in each of the first five innings against the Mariners on Friday while rolling to a 12-3 home victory
Houston stretched its lead over the third-place Mariners to 6 1/2 games while posting its first double-digit run output since an 11-4 win at Seattle on July 28.
Seattle entered the series 26-14 in one-run games, tops in the majors in wins in that category. If the Astros aimed to send a message of not playing to the Mariners’ strength this series, they did so in resounding fashion in the opener.
“It was great,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “We hit some balls hard on the road with nothing to show for it. Was great to see some of the fruits of your hard work. Those guys didn’t take their foot off the pedal. That’s how you play, and that’s how I like to watch them play.”
In the middle game of the three-series on Saturday, veteran Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 4.74 ERA) will make his 18th appearance and 17th start of the season.
On Monday, he allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in the Astros’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Odorizzi tossed five scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies in his previous start.
Odorizzi has labored since the All-Star break, going 2-2 with an 6.75 ERA over six starts.
Rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert (5-4, 4.42 ERA) has the Mariners’ starting assignment for Saturday. He took the loss in his previous appearance, allowing five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts over four innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Gilbert went 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA during a nine-start stretch that concluded July 18, earning his first career victory during that span after surrendering one run with seven strikeouts over five innings against the Los Angeles Angels on June 6. Gilbert is set to oppose the Astros for the first time in his career.
Following a ragged start for left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, Gilbert will attempt to get the Seattle rotation back on track. Entering Friday, Mariners starters owned an AL-leading 2.56 ERA with 24 walks against 84 strikeouts over 98 1/3 innings this month.
Mariners starters had allowed no more than three runs in 17 of 18 outings before Kikuchi surrendered seven runs on seven hits and three walks over just 2 2/3 innings in the series opener.
–Field Level Media