Mariners vs Astros: Mariners look to keep up their strong play

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 03: Chris Flexen of the Seattle Mariners reacts. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 03: Chris Flexen of the Seattle Mariners reacts. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners were able to take three of four from the Oakland Athletics, doing it in true Mariners style. They lost by three, then won each game by one, for an even run differential in the series. If you thought that series was tough, next up is the Houston Astros.

I’ll keep it professional, well, this time around at least. Go here or here if you want snark.

The Mariners find themselves eight games above .500, with a record of 54-46. I mentioned run differential earlier, as they are the only team since 1901 to have a record this good, with a run differential worse than 50. The biggest part of that is the record in one-run games… 23-8, the best in baseball.

On the other side, Houston has the second-best run differential in all of baseball, at +144. It’s more about catching Oakland in the wild card (1.5 games back) than it is Houston (7.0 games back). That starts with playing well against the Astros, and it’s going to start with the guy that a lot of fans thought should’ve started his game against the Rockies.

Mariners vs Astros: Pitching Matchups

  • Monday, July 26th @ 7:10 PM – McCaughan vs Garcia
  • Tuesday, July 27th @ 7:10 PM – Flexen vs McCullers Jr
  • Wednesday, July 28th @ 12:40 PM – Kikuchi vs Odorizzi

Darren McCaughan came in during the second inning of the Rockies game last week and pitched better than anyone could’ve hoped. He was a bit wild and saw one run cross the plate despite holding them hitless through five innings. He gets the nod to start the series. This will be a much larger test (obviously) as the Rockies are hitting 20+ BA points worse than Houston.

Flexen takes game two and will look to continue his insane home pitching, where he has been one of the best in baseball. He’s sitting with a 1.89 ERA at home, and I can’t stress enough how happy I would be to see him limit Houston to something around that number. (7 innings and one run, anyone?)

Kikuchi has struggled a bit lately but will look to get back on track in the finale. The good news is that the Mariners have given him good run support as of late, with four or more runs being scored in 10 straight starts.

Mariners vs Astros: Hitter to Watch

JP Crawford has been having quite the season so far, but it’s inflated a bit by the incredible June that he had. Here are his numbers, by month, this season to date.

  • April – .250/.313/.295
  • May – .242/.308/.358
  • June – .352/.400/.528
  • July – .179/.247/.218

I don’t believe that either June Crawford or July Crawford is the player that he truly is. Then again, I still think he is better than the April/May numbers. He was able to show more pop in May and June, which I think is a truer indication of who he is. Somewhere around a .265/.325/.400 hitter.

We know that Crawford won’t hit a ton of homers. He has the ability to get 40 doubles though, and ten homers and 40 doubles from a Gold Glove shortstop would be just fine by me.

On the other side, we need to be wary of Jose Altuve. Although he isn’t hitting as well as he has shown in the past, average-wise, he’s hitting the ball like a power hitter. Through 87 games played, he already has hit 23 home runs. There’s an argument to be made he’s hunting for them, as he just has 12 doubles so far on the season. That can still make for a dangerous hitter, and Mariners pitchers will need to be extra cautious vs Altuve when runners are on base.

Mariners vs Astros: Final Thoughts

This will be the third series against Houston this season, and things have been pretty close. We saw a stellar game from Kikuchi and there’ve been strong wins by both sides. The Mariners are 3-4 against Houston while being outscored by 1. The most 2021 Mariners thing out there would be to lose a game by seven and win the other two by a combined differential of +3.

There are some bright spots. Alex Bregman is still out. We don’t have to face Grienke. As Houston has shown so far this year, having a player or two out doesn’t make them any less dangerous, as evidenced by their 61-39 record.

It’s going to be a tough series. We have to play one of the best teams in baseball, and it just so happens to be the final full series before the trade deadline. It seems like the Mariners are nearly in full buy mode now, but it sure would be nice to see them take this series against Houston. Even a 1-2 series wouldn’t be awful, as I would’ve definitely taken a 4-3 stretch against Oakland and Houston. Let’s root for a solid series though, and hope to see the Mariners at 56-47 Thursday morning.