September 16, 2017 / 9:03 PM / 3 months ago

Preview: Mariners at Astros

The Houston Astros are on the verge of clinching the American League West when they host the Seattle Mariners on Saturday for the middle contest of their three-game series. Houston posted a 5-2 victory in Friday’s opener and arrives to the ballpark with a magic number of two for clinching its first division title since 2001.

The Astros are a scintillating 12-5 against Seattle this season, and ace Dallas Keuchel will look to stymie the Mariners for the third time this season. All-Star Carlos Correa went 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double on Friday but has no homers and two RBIs in 48 at-bats this month. The defeat was a painful one for the Mariners, who sit 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild-card spot with just 14 games remaining. Kyle Seager was hitless in four at-bats on Friday, ending an 11-game hitting streak during which he belted six homers.

TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Erasmo Ramirez (5-5, 4.25 ERA) vs. Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (12-4, 3.03)

Ramirez is winless in his last four outings, including a no-decision against the Astros on Sept. 4 in which he gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The 27-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA over his last six starts, allowing fewer than three runs five times during the stretch. Ramirez is 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA in eight career appearances (five starts) against Houston and easily has handled Josh Reddick (2-for-19) and Carlos Beltran (1-for-10).

Keuchel has won just one of his last three starts, and the victory came when matched against Ramirez 12 days ago as he allowed two runs and seven hits over 7 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old is limiting opposing batters to a .182 average in nine home starts while going 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Keuchel is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Mariners this year and 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 14 career appearances (13 starts) as he struggles with Nelson Cruz (10-for-27, three homers).

WALK-OFFS

1. Astros 2B Jose Altuve is batting just .261 in 46 at-bats this month, allowing his major league-best average to drop to .347.

2. Seattle 2B Robinson Cano is mired in an 11-game home-run drought despite batting .333 during the stretch.

3. Houston RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (arm fatigue) is slated to throw a bullpen session on Saturday and could rejoin the rotation next week.

PREDICTION: Astros 4, Mariners 0

0 : 0
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