May 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Robinson Cano (22) is congratulated at home plate by third baseman Kyle Seager (15) and right fielder Michael Saunders (55) after he hit a two run home run in the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners Series Preview: vs. Houston Astros

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Welcome home Mariners! If you haven’t heard already, this is the longest home stand of the season for the Mariners, stretching an impressive 11 games. There’s two back-to-back four game series against the Astros and the Angels, and a weekend wrap up against the Tigers.

No doubt those 8 divisional games are going to be clutch for the Mariners to win. I’d say .500 on those games simply won’t get it done. They’ll need to outright win both of those series if they really want to prove they’re legit. This is a great time for the Mariners to get hot again. Here’s the first Mariners series preview vs the Houston Astros.

Matchups

Game one: Jarred Cosart (3-3, 4.41 ERA) v. Roenis Elias (3-3, 3.88 ERA)

Cosart is looking for his third straight win today after taking back-to-back starts against the Orioles and White Sox. While he certainly didn’t have his best stuff against the Sox (5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 ER), the Astros managed to take the game with a bunch of late-inning runs. Elias is also looking for his fourth win of the season after he took a painful loss to the Twins last week. Elias had started out the season on fire, but the league seems to have figured him out a little bit as he’s given up 20 hits and 12 runs in his last three starts. The Astros haven’t seen him yet though, so there’s that.

Game two: Brad Peacock (1-4, 5.20 ERA) v. Felix Hernandez (5-1, 2.94 ERA)

Peacock has had a rough May so far, going 1-2 with a no-decision since last facing the Mariners on May 2nd. He struck out a career-high 11 batters last week when he faced the Rangers (the Astros lost 4-0), so he has shown flashes of brilliance, but you certainly have to give the edge to Felix this time around. Felix is chasing his third straight win after he dominated the Twins last week over 8 innings. He still hasn’t run up the strikeout numbers in his last few starts like we’re used to seeing, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been good.

Game three: Dallas Kuchel (5-2, 2.92 ERA) v. Brandon Maurer (1-2, 6.00 ERA)

Dallas Kuchel has been the hottest pitcher in the Astros organization lately, while the Astros have a few guys chasing three straight wins, Kuchel will be looking for his fourth. One of those wins being a complete game shutout against the Rangers. In his last two starts, Kuchel has made it into the ninth inning. This doesn’t fill me with confidence as the M’s will be fielding Brandon Maurer, who has gone 5+ innings only ONCE this season. And when he did that he gave up 14 hits. Maurer missed his last start because of an off day. Lloyd McClendon figured that the extra time off might give him some time to clear his head, Maurer hasn’t pitched since May 14.

Game four: Scott Feldman (2-2, 3.02 ERA) v. Hissashi Iwakuma (3-0, 1.76 ERA)

Old-Man Feldman has been getting rocked in May over three starts. Though, to be fair, he’s coming back from a bicep injury. While I would say this represents a chance for the Mariners to give Iwakuma some run support, they haven’t really done that over his first three starts of the season anyways. Not that he needs it. Iwakuma has been lights out since coming back. He’s allowed only two runs in his last three starts. The only reason he isn’t a 4-0 already is because of the FRE.

Mariners Notes

  • First and foremost, if you can get to the game tonight, and you enjoy tasty firestorms, then hit this link and get in on the Sriracha special tonight. for $25 you get a seat, a t-shirt and a special sriracha menu item, either milk-shake, hot dog or garlic fries, all supplemented with our favorite condiment. (It’s online only, so don’t go to the gates to try and score this deal)
  • According to Lloyd, both James Paxton and Logan Morrison are set to head out on a rehab stint this weekend. Getting Paxton back would be pretty awesome, as we’ve noted that Brandon Maurer has been struggling a bit recently. With Corey Hart still out, Lomo could find a bunch of playing time waiting for him.
  • Robinson Cano has been earning most (if not all) of his paycheck recently. He batted .500 over this last road trip and knocked his second homer of the season yesterday, so he’s certainly doing all he can to get back on the winning train.
  • The Mariners are only 8-10 at home so far in 2014 (though that did include the skid). The Mariners need to take full advantage of this home stretch where they should get two starts out of both Iwakuma and Felix.
  • Everyone’s favorite shortstop is back again too, Nick Frankin has taken over for Brad Miller (who became a scapegoat in recent weeks). Miller played both games in Texas this week and had an RBI and a stolen base.

Astros Notes

  • The Astros have been having some pitching problems of their own, and last week signed veteran Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth has already made two appearances with the Astros but he blew a one-run lead against the Angels yesterday. Expect to see him this week.
  • Astros rookie right fielder George Springer pulled a hammy last night in a game against the Angels. While he says he’s fine, look for the Astros to be cautious with their young outfielder.
  • Over at Climbing Tal’s Hill, they’re debating whether or not Dallas Keuchel is actually as good as he’s been pitching recently. (Spoiler alert: he might actually be really good).

Around the AL West

As I said, this is a huge opportunity for the Mariners to make up some ground in the West, back-to-backers against the Astros and Angels is going to be so important. Also, by some miracle, the M’s are still a half-game up on the Rangers.

  • Oakland is heading north of the Border this weekend to take on the red-hot Blue Jays. The Jays are 7-3 in their last ten and are tied with the Yankees for first in the AL East, a place the Jays haven’t seen in a long time.
  • The Angels are at home versus the KC Royals this weekend. The M’s are three and a half games back of the Angels for second in the west right now, so having the Royals steal a few wins on the road would be pretty nice. Starts from Jason Vargas and James Shields is certainly a good way to get that rolling.
  • The Rangers are in Detroit for a tough four game series against the Tigers (who are currently second in the AL). The Tigers are actually on a three game losing streak, but there’s no reason to think that they can’t turn that around this weekend at home.
  • If it isn’t obvious by now, the Astros are in Seattle.

 

Team Games Back
Oakland A’s -
LA Angels 4.0
Seattle Mariners 7.5
Texas Rangers 8.0
Houston Astros 13.5
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