Jose Altuve and teammates (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
The Houston Astros (67-86) will take on the Seattle Mariners (82-70) tonight at Minute Maid Park after losing a four-game series that may have been their worst offensive performance of the season. This week against the Indians, Astros hitters had 50 strikeouts, only 28 hits, and seven walks in 39 total innings.
Last night, even All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, the franchise’s new single-season hits leader, went 0 for 6 for the first time in his career after batting .500 during a seven-game hitting streak. On Thursday, the Astros played 13 innings in a 2-1 loss and didn’t even have one extra-base hit the whole night. For the series, the only time Houston was able to win was when the red-hot Collin McHugh matched the Indians dominant pitching effort in game one.
Brad Peacock (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Tonight, the Astros will look to bounce back as they start their final three-game homestand and send Brad Peacock to the mound. Although he is just 4-8 with a 4.80 ERA on the season, the veteran right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.66 ERA over his last four starts. In his most recent game, also against the Mariners, Peacock pitched 5.0 scoreless innings while striking out six and walking two on 92 pitches. He now has a 5.94 ERA in seven career match-ups against the Mariners and a 4.41 ERA against them this season.
Peacock takes the mound for the first time since getting scratched from Monday’s start with back soreness. He hasn’t pitched into the seventh inning one time this season, but has 110 strikeouts, 64 walks, and 126 hits in 123.2 innings pitched. Additionally, Peacock has been much better at home than on the road. Take a look:
"Peacock at home: 3-3 with a 4.34 ERA, 74.2 innings pitched, 78 hits, 36 earned runs, 5 home runs, 38 walks, 72 strikeouts, and a .271 opponent batting average against in 13 starts.Peacock on the road: 1-5 with a 5.51 ERA, 49.0 innings pitched, 48 hits, 30 earned runs, 12 home runs, 26 walks, 38 strikeouts, and a .258 opponent batting average in nine starts."
Offensively, the Astros’ struggling lineup will take on Seattle’s Taijuan Walker. The 22-year-old right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA this season, but making his first start in nearly two months. Walker, who is known as one of the best young arms in baseball, has made half of his six career starts against the Astros and gone 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in those three games.
The Astros are hoping to shake off some of their recent struggles on offense and get back on track. For example, Jon Singleton was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts last night, which is the third time he has done that this season. The left-handed slugger is currently in an 0-for-20 slump and now 4-for-52 with 29 strikeouts, one home run and three RBIs since August 25th. I wrote about him yesterday.
The Astros also need designated hitter Chris Carter to get his home run swing back and manager Tom Lawless would love to see anything offensively from Matt Dominguez. Carter hasn’t hit a bomb since September 5th and Dominguez is currently in an 0 for 22 slump. This team can’t rely on Altuve, who leads the AL batting race by seven points over Victor Martinez, to provide all the offensive production every night. They need other guys in the lineup to step up this weekend against the Mariners or Houston could fall even further behind in the season series (9-7). If the Astros are unable to supplement their pitching with some run support, Seattle could ruin the last series at Minute Maid Park this season.