The Houston Astros are set to open a three-game series against the Mariners.
Coming off a bounceback series win against the Giants and a much-needed day off, the Houston Astros will try to get on a roll as they host the last-place Seattle Mariners. If they can get the bullpen in order, their chances of doing so seem to be pretty good, especially considering they’ll enjoy the return of Yordan Alvarez.
The Astros are 8-10 on the season and sitting in third place, while the Mariners are 7-13, losers of two straight and seven of their last 10. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season, as Houston took three of four at Minute Maid Park to open the schedule. They have yet to travel to Seattle.
The Astros have a distinct edge in run differential, outscoring their opponents by six runs despite their losing record. The Mariners, meanwhile, have been outscored by 35 runs, which is the largest run differential — positive or negative — in the American League.
Tonight’s opener will kick off at 8:10 p.m. CT, while Saturday’s game will begin at 6:10 p.m. The teams will then play an afternoon game on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. All three games will be broadcast on ATT SportsNet SW.
Tonight’s opener will feature a pair of lefthanders as Framber Valdez takes on Yusei Kikuchi. Valdez has a 2.04 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance after allowing one earned run in seven innings against Oakland. Kikuchi is 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts after allowing five runs in 3.2 innings in his first start against the Astros this season.
Rookie Cristian Javier will get the ball on Saturday opposite lefthander Nick Margevicius. Javier is coming off his first poor outing in the majors, allowing five runs in three innings against the A’s. Margevicius has a 3.24 ERA in one start and three relief appearances, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings in his last outing.
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Sunday’s finale will have Lance McCullers, Jr taking the mound against lefthander Justus Sheffield. McCullers has a 6.10 ERA on the season but is coming off a brilliant outing in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Sheffield is 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA in three starts but threw six scoreless frames against the Rockies last time out.
Players to Watch
For Seattle, keep an eye on Kyle Lewis. The former first round pick is a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year award as he leads his team in batting average and OPS. He slashed .400/.500/.800 with two homers and four RBIs against the Astros in the earlier series between the two teams this year.
For the Astros, aside from the obvious Alvarez, the one to watch is Alex Bregman. After a slow start, the MVP candidate is heating up at the plate and leads the team in homers, RBIs and walks. He homered twice against the Giants and now has more walks than strikeouts, which has become the norm for him.
The expectation should certainly be a series win here, as the Mariners aren’t that good of a team. A sweep would be wonderful, but those are easier said than done. They’ll be facing a good Rockies team once this series is done, so they at least need to have some positive momentum coming out of this.