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Seattle Mariners (27-33) vs. Houston Astros (34-27) 5:10 PM PST
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Felix Hernandez: Like I have said before, there is not much to say about Felix. In his last start, he didn’t have his best stuff, and still competed in classic Felix fashion, allowing only one run in seven innings of work. The King is finally getting some run support, and leads all of baseball in wins so far this season. Felix has a chance to become the first to 10 wins in 2015 tonight in this first of three games against the Astros, who have a 6.5 game lead on the fourth place Seattle Mariners.
Brett Oberholtzer: The 25-year-old left-hander has had a rough start thus far in 2015, logging only three starts after injuries kept him sidelined for most of the first two months. The third-year pitcher has a gawdy WHIP of 2.08 to accompany an opponents batting average of .367 in his 12 innings of work. Oberholtzer has not gone more than 5.1 innings in his three starts, and set a season high for pitch count in his last outing at 88. The southpaw went only 3.2 innings in his last start, allowing four runs to the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Jun 4, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitterNelson Cruz
(23) hits a sharp line drive during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field. The Rays beat the Mariners 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Mark Trumbo RF
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Nelson Cruz DH
5. Kyle Seager 3B
6. Rickie Weeks LF
7. Logan Morrison 1B
8. Mike Zunino C
9. Willie Bloomquist SS
Notes: Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is going with a righty-heavy lineup today against the Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer. All-Star Game candidate Nelson Cruz is back in the lineup after missing a couple of games due to a back strain, and Rickie Weeks gets the start in left field for the consistent Seth Smith. While it would be nice to see Seth Smith and Brad Miller in the lineup even with a left-hander on the mound, I like the pop throughout this lineup. It will be interesting to see how Mark Trumbo does today, batting in the two-hole and playing right field. He made a throwing error on a routine play in his last outfield start, resulting in an extra base for the hitter.
May 31, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitterEvan Gattis
(11) hits a single against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Chicago won 6 to 0. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
1. Jose Altuve 2B
2. Preston Tucker LF
3. George Springer RF
4. Evan Gattis DH
5. Colby Rasmus CF
6. Carlos Correa SS
7. Luis Valbuena 3B
8. Chris Carter 1B
9. Jason Castro C
Notes: Jose Altuve has cooled down significantly since Felix Hernandez and the Mariners last saw him, batting only .225 over his last 30 games. In that same span, Altuve has posted an on-base percentage of only .252. Evan Gattis has continued to flourish in his new home, and has slugged 12 homers so far in 2015. His 38 RBI are eighth best in the American League, although he does have a batting average of only .226. In fact, as a team the Houston Astros have the worst batting average in the American League at .233. Yes, that is worse than the Seattle Mariners (.236).
3 Things to Watch For:
1. Is Rickie Weeks Useless?
Rickie Weeks has done a whole lot of nothing for the Seattle Mariners in 2015. Somehow, he is still getting starts against left-handed pitchers, but I guess it is what it is. With the acquisition of Mark Trumbo and Seth Smith playing like an every day regular, you would think that Weeks would be riding the pine. That being said, this guy has been successful in the big leagues for a long time, and still has some pop. A former every day starter himself, look for Weeks to play with a chip on his shoulder today and pop one over the short left field fence at Minute Maid Park.
2. Jose Altuve Is a Mariner Killer
At the beginning of the season, it seemed like Jose Altuve could hit just about anything, especially when it was thrown by a Seattle Mariners pitcher. Well, he has really fallen off in the last month or so, bringing his season batting average down to .289. That being said, it seems like Altuve always finds a way on base against the Mariners, and I expect him to pick up a pair of hits tonight off Felix Hernandez. Hopefully they are just singles, and King Felix leaves the compact second baseman stranded on the base paths.
3. Mark Trumbo Hits Home Runs, I Swear
From 2011-2013 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mark Trumbo averaged over 31 longballs per season. He hit nine homers for the Diamondbacks in 2015 before being traded to the Mariners, but has yet to leave the yard in a Seattle uniform. He came close in Cleveland, and has been very aggressive on first pitch fastballs since joining the M’s. If Mark gets an elevated fastball early in the count tonight, the train in deep left field at Minute Maid Park might be in danger.
Last Game’s Predictions:
1. Offense, Holy Lord in Heaven, We Have Offense–OUT
The offense was silenced yesterday by Sean Marcum, who held the Mariners to only two measly hits. The M’s also failed to draw a walk, quite the contrast to the nine runs that they scored two days ago in Cleveland. Hopefully they can get the offense back on track in Houston today.
2. J.A. Happ, the Stopper–OUT
Happ turned in a rare poor start yesterday against the Indians, allowing four runs over only 2.1 innings of work. The former Toronto Blue Jay has been excellent for Lloyd McClendon’s Mariners this season, but did not have his best stuff in the last of three games against Cleveland. It was only the third time in 12 starts this season that Happ has allowed more than three runs.
3. Where Are the Dingers??–OUT
Still not sure where the dingers are, as the M’s have now hit only two homers in their last 11 games. With a short porch in left field and six right-handed hitters in the lineup, the Mariners will look to buck this trend in Houston tonight. If it is any consolation, according to Lloyd McClendon after yesterday’s game, the “wind was blowing in… on a regular day, we probably had three home runs.”
Hits: 30 Outs: 49 Batting Average: .380