American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, May 4th
(All times Eastern)
Seattle Mariners (13-15) at Houston Astros (10-20), 2:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Seattle - Brandon Maurer (0-0, 6.75)
Houston - Collin McHugh (2-0, 0.59)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Mariners take aim at their fifth win in six
outings, as they conclude a three-game series against the American League
West-rival Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.
Justin Smoak crushed a two-run homer during an eight-run seventh inning to
help the Mariners hold on to defeat Houston, 9-8, in the middle part of the
series on Saturday. Seattle led 9-2, before sustaining a late rally effort by
Star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma returned from the disabled list to make his
season debut for Seattle on Saturday and the offense provided the Japanese
import with its highest run total since scoring 10 runs in Anaheim on Opening
Day. Michael Saunders and Robinson Cano accounted for two RBI apiece for the
Mariners, who played the final three innings without manager Lloyd McClendon
after he was ejected.
McClendon benched outfielder Abraham Almonte on Saturday. Almonte has just
four hits in his last 37 at-bats. Third baseman Kyle Seager is hitting .394
over his last eight games, while Cano continues to lead the way with a .288
average on the campaign.
The Mariners will send Brandon Maurer to the mound as they attempt to win
their third series in a row. Maurer has struggled since returning from a back
injury that restricted him during spring training. In two starts, the 23-year-
old righty has totaled only eight innings. Maurer gave up five runs on seven
hits in 3 2/3 innings to the Rangers in his most recent appearance.
"I thought he threw the ball extremely well early, fatigued again and started
to get the ball up a little bit," McClendon said. "We probably pushed him a
little bit because of the circumstances and he's given us the very best he can
give us under the circumstances. I'm proud of the way the young man has gone
about his business."
Houston will counter with Collin McHugh, who has been fantastic in his brief
time with the club. The 26-year-old right-hander picked up his first career
win on April 22 by holding Seattle to just three hits and striking out 12 in 6
2/3 innings of action. He followed that performance with another gem, holding
Oakland to just one run on two hits while finishing just one out shy of a
complete game. McHugh joined the Astros with an 0-8 record and 8.94 ERA in 15
appearances, including nine starts, with the Mets and Rockies the previous two
"He's definitely made a strong case for himself," Astros manager Bo Porter
said. "He's earned his keep. If he continues to take the ball and give us what
he has so far, he's not going to do anything to change our thought process."
Houston's offense did its part in Saturday's setback. Chris Carter and
Jonathan Villar both homered, while Marwin Gonzalez had three hits in as many
at-bats. Carter, who is batting just .169 on the season, also produced his
first triple of the season and a pair of RBI.
Carter is not the only player in Houston's lineup having difficulty at the
plate in the early season. Second baseman Jose Altuve is leading the team with
a .290 batting average and no other every day player is hitting above the .260
mark. The Astros could certainly use a more consistent effort from Carter,
Dexter Fowler and Matt Dominguez, as they are ranked 29th in the MLB with a
.216 team batting average and average only 3.4 runs per game.
Rookie outfielder George Springer, who rested after hitting the game-winning
single in the 11th inning of Friday's win, will be back in the mix for Houston
in the rubber match.
Houston has defeated Seattle in three of five meetings this year.
05/04 10:41:37 ET