GAME: Mariners (8-13, 4th, AL West, -6.0 GB) at Astros (5-14, 5th, AL West, -8.0 GB). GAME #: 22. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 5th (series tied 2-2). WHEN: Tuesday, 5:10 p.m., Minute Maid Park. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Astros L 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners are 21 games into the 2013 season and have not had a winning streak longer than two games. Those now-distant back-to-back wins occurred against Oakland in the first two games of the season April 1-2, which helps explain why Seattle is already six games out of first place in the AL West and has the fan base — what there is left of it — grumbling.
The Mariners’ best chance for a second victory in a row will come Tuesday when they face the last-place Houston Astros in the second of two contests at Minute Maid Park. Not only did the Mariners get a measure of confidence back with their 7-1 victory Monday, finally making a career 100-game winner out of Felix Hernandez, they will have Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound.
Iwakuma (2-0, 1.69 ERA) has been Seattle’s most consistently effective starter this season and, if you subscribe to WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched), as good as any pitcher in the American League. In fact, his 0.525 WHIP leads the majors.
The only issue with Iwakuma is the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. That’s so far limited his ability to deep into games (six innings in his last start vs. Detroit).
The Mariners have scored five runs in Iwakuma’s past two starts and Tuesday will take a look at Bud Norris, who is coming off the shortest start — 0.2 innings — of his major league career. Norris has never pitched against the Mariners. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.52 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his fifth start and first against the Astros. Iwakuma has pitched well enough to win all four of his starts but has taken two no-decisions largely due to a lack of run support. He has worked into the seventh inning just once.
- LAST START: April 18 vs. Detroit, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 2-0 victory; 0 earned runs on 3 hits over 6.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 70 pitches, 49 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ASTROS: Never pitched.
- CAREER VS. ASTROS: No record.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: No record.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Iwakuma has faced only two current Astros, Chris Carter and Carlos Pena. Both players are 0-for-2 against him.
- CURRENT ASTROS VS. IWAKUMA: 0-for-4, .000 BA, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, .200 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: Bud Norris (2-2, 4.74 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Norris, a Greenbrae, CA., native in his fifth major league season, all with the Astros, will make his fifth start and first against the Mariners. Selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2006 amateur draft, Norris has alternated wins and losses and is coming off his worst outing of the season: He didn’t get out of the first inning. He had his best start against the Angels April 12, when he did not allow an earned run in seven innings. Norris has never faced the Mariners.
- LAST START: April 17 at Oakland, lost 7-5; allowed six earned runs on five hits in 0.2 innings; 0 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 46 pitches, 24 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: No record.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: Never pitched.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: 18-15, 3.50 ERA in 50 starts covering 301.0 innings; 302 strikeouts to 120 walks, 40 home runs, 1.27 WHIP.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Norris has faced four Mariners and only Raul Ibanez (3-for-12, .250) has more than one hit against him.
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. NORRIS: 5-for-22, .227 BA, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, .292 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Texas , three at Houston (Monday-Wednesday). The Marines return to Safeco Field Thursday to face the Angels.
- With his 100th victory, Felix Hernandez joins Jamie Moyer (145) and Randy Johnson (130) as the only pitchers in franchise history to reach that milestone.
- Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games with a one-out single in the first inning. Seager also homered and has driven in eight runs during his streak.
- The Mariners hit three home runs Monday, their first three-homer game since April 9, also against Houston.
- After going 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position during the Texas series, the Mariners went 4-for-8 Monday against the Astros.
- Franklin Gutierrez was injured trying to make a catch and was forced out of Monday’s game with a hamstring injury. Manager Eric Wedge said that Gutierrez could be headed to the disabled list.
- Raul Ibanez, who did not play Monday, needs two doubles to reach 400 for his career.
- Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has six saves in seven opportunities and all six saves have come for a different pitcher.
- In the Mariners’ eight victories, they are batting .369 (24-for-65) with runners in scoring position. In 13 losses, the Mariners are batting .108 (9-for-83) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP eight times in 21 games.
- The Mariners are in the midst of 16 games in 16 days. They will not have their next day off until May 2.
|4/23||Tue||at Hou||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0) vs. RHP Bud Norris (2-2)|
|4/24||Wed||at Hou||LHP Joe Saunders (1-2) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (0-2)|
|4/25||Thr||vs. LAA||RHP Brandon Maurer (1-3) vs. TBA|
|4/26||Fri||vs. LAA||RHP Aaron Harang (0-2) vs. TBA|
|4/27||Sat||vs. LAA||RHP Felix Hernandez (2-2) vs. TBA|