The Seattle Mariners go for a sixth straight win when they face the Houston Astros in the first of a three-game series between the top teams in the AL West standings on Monday night. The series opener is scheduled for a 7:10 pm ET first pitch at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Seattle is coming off a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a pair of extra-inning victories. The Mariners are 75-62 and in second place in the AL West, 4½ games behind the first-place Astros and one game ahead of the third-place Oakland Athletics. Seattle is also three games behind the Boston Red Sox for the second Wild-Card spot in the American League.
Houston has lost two in a row and four of its last five to fall to 79-57. The Astros are 6½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top record in the American League, with the Chicago White Sox a half-game behind Houston.
On a Roll
The Mariners are doing what they have to do to make their playoff dreams a reality, including scoring seven runs in the top of the 11th inning against Arizona on Sunday to pull out a 10-4 win. Seattle was counted out of the postseason a couple of weeks ago, but as teams ahead of it falter, it is winning and moving up.
“This is a special team,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Sunday’s win. “And we need some help, there’s no question about it; we need a little help here along the way. You need some other teams to stub their toe.
“But we can only control so much, and that’s what we do on the field. We knew before the game started what the situation was today. Our players knew it. But you’ve still got to go out and play.”
Seattle has just this three-game series left with the Astros, so it will need help if it wants to overtake them for the division lead. The Mariners have a three-game series with the Red Sox at the beginning of next week to try to make up ground in the Wild-Card race, and they also have seven more games with Oakland, which is right behind them in both races.
Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will get the start. The 30-year-old is 7-7 with a 4.12 ERA and had one win in the month of August.
He’s coming off an outstanding performance against the Astros on Tuesday, as he threw seven shutout innings, holding Houston to four hits and taking a no-decision in a 4-0 Mariners victory. In five starters against the Astros this season, Kikuchi is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA, giving up four home runs and 15 earned runs in 28⅔ innings.
Third baseman Kyle Seager has come up big in the last two games, driving in eight runs with a double and two home runs, including a two-run double to get the 11th inning score fest started on Sunday. Seager had just one single in the three-game series against Houston last week but is batting .226 with four doubles, six home runs, and 13 RBIs in 62 at-bats against the Astros.
The Astros had a rough road trip, going 4-5 over the nine-game span. Houston gets six straight home games and, after the series with Seattle, will have 14 straight games against teams out of playoff contention.
Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will be on the mound. McCullers is 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA and was 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts in August.
The last of those starts was against Seattle on Tuesday, as he went five scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. McCullers has three starts against the Mariners this season, going 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA.
The Houston offense continues to be inconsistent, scoring six runs in Friday night’s win over the Padres, then managing just five runs over the next two games. The Astros are batting .279 as a team and averaging 5.19 runs against Seattle, though they were shut out by the Mariners in the final two games of last week’s series.
Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez has four home runs in 11 at-bats against Seattle this season, though he’s been limited due to a knee injury of late. He fouled a ball off his leg on Saturday night and had to be helped off the field, though X-rays were negative. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter on Sunday and struck out.
The Astros lead the season series 9-7, though the Mariners have won three of the last four meetings. Houston has a 5-2 edge in games played at Minute Maid Park.
Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.14 ERA) will be on the mound for Seattle, followed by Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.08) in Wednesday’s game. The Astros are scheduled to start Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.32) in the second game of the series, followed by Jose Urquidy (6-3, 3.42) in the series finale.
The MLB series prices for this key three-game set have the Astros at +200, while the Mariners are listed at -260.
Astros Win Tight One
The starting pitchers on Monday night both had great games in their last meeting against each other, and that could happen again in this one. Houston should be able to find its offense at home, edging out a red-hot Mariners squad.
When making your MLB picks, take Houston to win at home.