GAME: Astros (22-43, 5th, AL West, -17.0 GB) at Mariners (28-37, 3rd, AL West, -11.0 GB). GAME #: 66. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 8th (Astros lead 4-3). WHEN: Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Astros L 5. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Aaron Harang has an absurdly tough act to follow Tuesday night when the Mariners and Houston Astros continue their three-game series at Safeco Field. Monday, Hisashi Iwakuma argued successfully — again — that he is the most effective pitcher in Safeco Field history by throttling the Astros in Seattle’s 3-2 victory.
Iwakuma (7-1) allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked one, while reducing his ERA to 1.79, second-lowest in the majors behind Boston’s Clay Buchholz (1.71), and his WHIP to 0.81, best in the majors. Although Iwakuma had a 23.2-inning scoreless streak snapped, he extended to 28.0 the number of innings he’s thrown since he last allowed an earned run (third inning, May 26). For good measure, Iwakuma took over the MLB lead in WAR for pitchers (4.0).
After that performance — “He has a great heartbeat,” manager Eric Wedge said after the game — Iwakuma lowered his Safeco Field ERA to 0.92 (best home mark in the majors) in six starts. In the six, Iwakuma has fanned 46 and walked only three.
Iwakuma has now made 16 career starts and 24 overall appearances at Safeco Field and is 9-3, 1.89.
Harang hasn’t been nearly as effective at Safeco in his eight career starts (see below), but will face a Houston club that has lost five in a row following a season-high five-game winning streak. Harang, who got shredded by the Yankees his last time out, will oppose RHP Bud Norris, who defeated the Mariners April 23. A close look:
MARINERS: RHP Aaron Harang (2-6, 6.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
The 35-year-old Harang, a San Diego native in his 12th major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 10th start and first against the Astros. After losing five of his first six starts, Harang put together effective back-to-back outings May 27 (shutout) and June 1, but then got taken apart by the Yankees the last time he got the ball, lasting just 2.1 innings. Harang has yielded 34 earned runs in 45.2 innings.
- LAST START: June 6 vs. New York, lost 6-1; 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 2.1 innings; 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 56 pitches, 35 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ASTROS: June 4, 2011, pitching for San Diego, won 6-3; 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 99 pitches, 67 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ASTROS: 13-9, 4.36 ERA in 26 starts covering 161.0 innings; 139 strikeouts, 39 walks, 26 home runs, 1.28 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 3-4, 3.35 ERA in 8 starts covering 45.2 innings; 40 strikeouts, 11 walks, 5 home runs, 1.02 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Jake Elmore (0-for-2, .000), Carlos Pena (1-for-6, .167), Brett Wallace (1-for-5, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Trevor Crowe (1-for-3, .333), Ronny Cedeno (7-for-24, .292).
- CURRENT ASTROS VS. HARANG: 10-for-40, .250 BA, 14 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 home runs, .302 on-base percentage.
ASTROS: RHP Bud Norris (5-5, 3.43 WHIP, 1.47 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Norris, a Greenbrae, CA., native in his fifth major league season, all with Houston, will make his 14th start and second against the Mariners. Norris, who has already defeated Seattle once this season, has pitched into the seventh inning five times. He has won two of his past three decisions. The Astros selected Norris, who attended Cal Poly, in the sixth round of the 2006 amateur draft.
- LAST START: June 6 vs. Baltimore, lost 3-1; 3 earned runs on 9 hits in 7.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 106 pitches, 72 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 23, won 3-2; 1 earned run on 8 hits in 5.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 86 pitches, 61 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-0, 1.80 ERA in 1 start covering 5.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 2.00 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
- LOVES TO FACE: Brendan Ryan (0-for-4, .000), Raul Ibanez (3-for-14, .214).
- HATES TO FACE: Justin Smoak (2-for-3, .667), Kendrys Morales (1-for-2, .500), Michael Morse (3-for-8, .375).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. NORRIS: 13-for-43, .302 BA, 8 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, .362 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. the White Sox (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. the Yankees (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. the Astros (Monday-Wednesday). The Mariners are in the midst of 20 games in 20 days with their next day off Thursday.
- Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1) had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 23.2 innings, eighth-longest in franchise history, but has not allowed an earned run in 28.0 innings dating to the third inning May 26.
- Raul Ibanez cracked his 12th home run of the season Monday, taking over the team lead. Michael Morse has 11.
- Tom Wilhelmsen has converted four consecutive save opportunities and now has 16 in 19 chances.
- Twenty-eight of Seattle’s first 65 games were decided two or fewer runs. They Mariners went 13-15 in those games.
- The Mariners have been outscored 43-12 in the second inning this season.
- The Mariners have homered just once in their past four games after homering in nine of the previous 11.
|6/11||Tue||vs. Hou||RHP Aaron Harang (2-6) vs. RHP Bud Norris (5-4)|
|6/12||Wed||vs. Hou||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-1) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (3-1)|
|6/14||Fri||at Oak||LHP Joe Saunders () vs. TBA|
|6/15||Sat||at Oak||RHP Felix Hernandez (7-4) vs. TBA|
|6/16||Sun||at Oak||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1) vs. TBA|