For all the complaints that we have seen so far from Mariners fans (dummies), the team is in a better spot than you would think if you've watched them play all year. At 15-16, they are just a game under .500, and coming off quite the stretch of road games, having played 15 of their last 24 on the road. They are back at home in Seattle, and are set to face the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros.
Mariners vs Astros: Pitching Matchups
Friday, May 5th @ 7:10 PM: Luis Castillo vs Cristian Javier
Saturday, May 6th @ 6:40 PM: Marco Gonzales vs Brandon Bielak
Sunday, May 7th @ 1:10 PM: Bryce Miller vs Hunter Brown
The opener is likely the best matchup, but the finale should be a lot of fun as well. Javier vs Castillo is a playoff worth matchup, and has the potential of a low-scoring nailbiter. Both teams will need to capitalize on any opportunity that presents itself, or else they will likely find themselves in a 3-1 hole as the 8th inning starts as both bullpens look to shut it down.
That closing game is the matchup of the future. Brown and Miller have had fans excited for a while now due to the talented ceilings they've had while in the prospect ranks. Both have done well this year, although Brown has been in the rotation all season. He struggled with command his last outing, walking 5 Giants, so the Mariners should take pitches to start the game and see if that plagues him again. This is a whole different game for Bryce Miller, as Houston is a real lineup, even without Altuve and a strugglin Jose Abreu.
Mariners vs Astros: Hitters to Watch
For the Mariners, is it wrong to say the top of the order in general? Take a look at some of the averages of the "big" Mariners hitters.
Julio - .223
Teo - .213
Dumper - .215
France - .235
Geno - .237
That just can't happen. Some of these guys, Dumper and Suarez, are streaky and that's okay. With France, Teo, and Julio, we need better production. They are supposed to be the three best hitters in the lineup, and it just hasn't been that way lately. If the Mariners are going to score runs against a good Houston team, those big-time hitters for the Mariners are going to need to produce, like they did in extras against Oakland.
For the Astros, It's imperative that they keep runners off the bases when Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker come to bat. They have 27 and 20 RBI this season, respectively, and are capable of single-handedly winning a game. The Mariners will need to keep an eye on Tucker, Chas McCormick, and Jeremy Pena while they are on the bases. Esteury Ruiz wreaked havoc on the Mariners while on the basepaths, and those three are all very capable of swiping a bag.
Also, let's just hope that Jose Abreu keeps hitting as he has been this season (.232/.267/.264).
Mariners vs Astros: Final Thoughts
There is a massive opportunity here for the Mariners to keep their recent four-game winning streak going. Yes, they have to face Cristian Javier in the opener, but the Astros also have to face La Piedra. Brandon Bielak, in game two, shouldn't strike fear into anyone. Hunter Brown is coming off a start where he had control issues, which is something the Mariners could take advantage of after seeing so many walks in Oakland.
The Mariners are back at home. IT's not their rival so much so as it is the rival of baseball fans, and they have a chance to get above .500. We are at the 20% mark of the season just about, and things are fine so far. This series makes for a great marking place to kickstart May and keep this run towards back-to-back playoff appearances going.