Series Preview: Astros at Mariners



The Houston Astros go on their first road trip of the season Monday, heading to Seattle to face the Mariners in their Home Opener. This will be the Astros first trip to Seattle since 2004, but their first of three trips there this season. The Astros are on a five game losing streak after being swept by the Oakland Athletics. Seattle started off the season winning their first two at Oakland, but followed that up by losing four of their last five against the A’s and the Chicago White Sox. The Astros will catch a major break this series by missing Mariners’ pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

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Game 1: Monday, April 8th at 9:10 CT
Philip Humber (0-1, 1.59 ERA) vs Joe Saunders (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Joe Saunders had a rough spring, allowing 15 earned runs in 11.2 innings pitched, and followed that up with a weak outing in Oakland on April 3rd. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits in four innings pitched. Control was an issue in his first start as he walked four A’s while striking out three. Saunders was signed as a free agent during the offseason after spending last season with the Diamondbacks and the Orioles. He finished 2012 with a combined 9-13 record and a 4.07 ERA.

The last time Philip Humber faced the Seattle Mariners history was made with his perfect game. Humber has thrown 25 innings in his career against the Mariners, going 2-0 with 19 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. He will be facing a much more potent Mariners’ offense this time around, so he will need to continue the success that he had in his last start against the Texas Rangers. Humber followed up his strong spring by throwing 5.2 innings of one run baseball on April 3rd. It’s likely that Mariners fans will remember Humber from last season, so I’m sure he will get a warm welcome.

Game 2: Tuesday, April 9th at 9:10 CT
Erik Bedard (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Brandon Maurer (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Rookie right-hander Brandon Maurer pitched his way into the starting rotation with a strong spring despite never pitching above Double-A. In Maurer’s Major League debut versus the White Sox, he was roughed up for six runs in six innings while striking out just one. He surrendered eight hits; two of which left the yard. I’m sure his adrenaline will be high for his first home start, which could be good for the Astros offense.

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Erik Bedard has some history with the Mariners, as he pitched in Seattle from 2008 to 2011. The Mariners acquired Bedard from the Orioles following his strong 2007 season, when he finished fifth in the Cy Young voting. In one of the more lopsided trades of the last decade, Seattle sent Chris Tillman, Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler to Baltimore to acquire Bedard. While pitching effectively, Bedard could not shake the injury bug, making only 46 starts during his time in Seattle and going 15-14. Bedard has yet to make a start for the Astros, and in his only appearance out of the bullpen he threw 3.1 shutout innings against the Rangers on Opening Day.

Game 3: Wednesday, April 10th at 9:10 CT
Brad Peacock (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs Blake Beavan (0-0, 9.00)

Dallas-area native Blake Beavan is in his third season with the Mariners. Last season he made 26 starts, going 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA. In his first start of 2013, he gave up five runs on six hits in six innings pitched against the White Sox. Like Maurer, the long ball was an issue as he allowed two of them. Last season Beavan averaged just four strikeouts per nine innings which is great news for the strikeout-happy Astros.

Brad Peacock made his Astros debut in Game 1 of the Oakland A’s series, going 4.1 innings while allowing two runs on three hits. Peacock struggled in the first couple of innings with his command before settling down, but by that time his pitch count was already high and his start was cut short. He ended up striking out five while walking three A’s hitters.

Worth Noting:

  • This will be Seattle’s first game at Safeco Field since moving in the outfield walls from right center field to left field. The walls will be anywhere from 4-17 feet closer to home plate than they were last season, and the 16 foot wall in left field will be shortened to eight feet tall.
  • Michael Morse has hit five of the Mariners’ nine home runs this season. Morse currently leads the Mariners in most offensive categories, with a .310 average, eight RBI and a 1.182 OPS. He was acquired from the Washington Nationals during the offseason.
  • Astros hitters have struckout 74 times in the six games this season. 36% of their plate appearances have ended in a strikeout. They are currently on pace to strikeout nearly 2000 times this season, but it’s highly doubtful they will continue that pace as they have faced two of the league’s better rotations to start off the season.

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