The Seattle Mariners will try to ride the momentum of a dramatic series sweep when they visit the American League West-leading Houston Astros for the first of three games Monday night. After winning their final game before the All-Star break, the Mariners took three in a row at the Chicago White Sox to open their road trip, capped by a 7-6 win in 10 innings Sunday.
Nelson Cruz’s solo homer was the difference for Seattle (46-47), which has a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since June 25. Houston’s lead over the Mariners in the American League West stands at a very comfortable 16 1/2 games, and it has won seven of 10 meetings between the two. The Astros rode a strong start from Mike Fiers (season-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings) en route to a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday to take two of three. Lance McCullers Jr. will try to duplicate Fiers’ performance when he gets the nod in the opener opposite lefty Ariel Miranda.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports Northwest (Seattle), ATT Sportsnet - Houston
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners LH Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.15 ERA) vs. Astros RH Lance McCullers Jr. (7-2, 3.05)
Miranda followed up seven scoreless innings on June 30 by giving up six runs in five frames five days later against Kansas City. The 28-year-old was reached for four runs in 7 1/3 innings in a loss to Houston on June 25 at home and opened the season with back-to-back starts versus the Astros, surrendering six runs on 12 hits and five walks in 10 2/3 frames. George Springer is 4-for-11 with four home runs against Miranda, who has a 5.48 ERA on the road.
McCullers had won five decisions in a row before a loss at Toronto on July 6, when he allowed six runs (five earned) and a season-high nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. The former first-round pick has logged five straight turns without allowing a home run and only one batter has taken him deep over a span of 10 outings. McCullers has yielded two runs in 11 innings over two outings versus the Mariners in 2017, and he is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA in seven starts against them.
1. Astros 2B Jose Altuve has seven multi-hit efforts during his nine-game hitting streak.
2. Mariners 2B Robinson Cano is hitless in eight at-bats over his last two games and is batting .205 in 10 contests against Houston this year.
3. Cruz has homered in consecutive games and has five in his last eight affairs.
PREDICTION: Astros 6, Mariners 4