GAME: Mariners (44-52, 4th, AL West, -12.0 GB) at Astros (33-62, 5th, AL West, -22.5 GB). GAME #: 97. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 11th (series tied 5-5). WHEN: Saturday, 4:10 p.m., Minute Maid Park. STREAKS: Mariners W 4; Astros L 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When they made the now-obvious blunder of swapping OF Adam Jones to the Baltimore Orioles Feb. 8, 2008 in a package of players for Erik Bedard, the Mariners thought they were acquiring one of the premier left handers in the American League (28 wins over the previous two years).
But Bedard, for a litany of reasons, mainly injury-related, never really panned out in Seattle. In 46 starts between 2008-11, Bedard went 15-14 with a 3.31 ERA. He hasn’t fared much better since, going 11-22 combined for Boston, Pittsburgh and Houston.
This is a good example of Bedard’s bad luck: On April 9, pitching against the Mariners at Safeco Field, Bedard had a 13-0 lead and failed to collect the win in what became a 16-9 Houston romp. He threw 66 pitches through four, allowing just one hit, but manager Bo Porter didn’t want to over-extend the fragile Bedard and yanked him.
Bedard gets another crack at the Mariners Saturday night when Seattle and Houston play the second of three at Minute Maid Park. The game doesn’t figure to be as high-scoring as the offensive eruption Friday, when Seattle, with four homers, including a pair by rookie Brad Miller, won 10-7, offsetting a 5-for-5 cycle by Houston’s Brandon Barnes.
Hisashi Iwakuma, despite struggling in five of his past six outings (he won the last one), still leads the majors in WHIP (0.93) and will get the start for the Mariners. Bedard rarely gets shelled, despite tepid results. A closer look:
MARINERS: LHP RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 3.02 ERA, 0.93 WHIP)
Iwakuma, a 32-year-old Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 21st start and third against the Astros. Iwakuma sustained a 3-2 loss to Houston April 23 and came back with a 3-2 win over the Astros June 10. In his last start, Iwakuma snapped a five-game slump by topping the Angels for his first win since that win over Houston June 10. Iwakuma made his first MLB All-Star team, but wasn’t eligible to pitch after throwing in the final game before the break.
- LAST START: June 14 vs. L.A. Angels, won 4-3; 3 earned runs on 7 hits in 7.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 96 pitches, 68 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ASTROS: June 10, won 3-2; 0 earned runs on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 105 pitches, 73 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ASTROS: 1-1, 1.50 ERA in 2 starts covering 12.0 innings; 19 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, 1.16 WHIP.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: 0-1, 3.60 ERA in 1 start covering 5.0 innings; 11 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 1.80 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Chris Carter (1-for-7, .143), Carlos Pena (1-for-6, .167), Jason Castro (1-for-5, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4, .500), Jose Altuve (2-for-5, .400), Brandon Barnes (1-for-4, .250).
- CURRENT ASTROS VS. IWAKUMA: 9-for-43, .209 BA, 18 strikeouts, 5 walks, 1 home run, .300 on-base percentage.
ASTROS: Erik Bedard (3-6, 4.61 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
The 34-year-old Bedard, an Ontario native in his 10th major league season and first with Houston, will make his 18th start and second against Seattle, a team for which Bedard pitched from 2008-11. Bedard dropped three in a row following a two-game winning streak, but pitched well enough in his last outing, at Tampa Bay, to win. He just didn’t receive support as the Astros lost 5-0, starting their All-Star break a day early.
- LAST START: July 14 at Tampa, lost 5-0; 2 earned runs on 8 hits in 5.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 109 pitches, 67 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 9, received a no-decision in Houston’s 16-9 victory; 0 earned runs on 1 hit in 4.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 66 pitches, 39 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-3, 4.78 ERA in six starts covering 32.0 innings; 28 strikeouts, 17 walks, 4 home runs, 1.43 WHIP.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: 2-1, 2.98 ERA in 9 games, including 7 starts, covering 45.1 innings; 47 strikeouts, 22 walks, 7 home runs, 1.30 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Raul Ibanez (1-for-9, .111), Kendrys Morales (2-for-9, .222).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Saunders 1-for-2, .500.
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. BEDARD: 4-for-34, .118 BA, 8 strikeouts, 8 walks, 0 home runs, .279 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Ends Sunday. Following the trip, the Mariners return to Safeco Field for a seven-game home stand with Cleveland and Minnesota.
- Brad Miller, who started the season in AA ball, hit his first two major league home runs in Seattle’s 10-7 win over Houston Friday. He drove in five runs in his 17th major league game.
- Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to a season-high 15 games Friday by hitting his 16th home run.
- The Mariners have homered in a franchise-record 23 consecutive games (41 home runs overall since June 20 when they streak began). The 2002 Texas Rangers hold the major league record for consecutive games banging a homer, 27.
- Joe Saunders, despite pitching just 5.1 innings, has won four straight starts. He improved to 9-8 with a 4.28 ERA.
- The cycle by Houston’s Brandon Barnes (5-for-5) Friday night was the second of the season against the Mariners. Mike Trout of the Angels had one May 21 in a 12-0 victory over Seattle.
|7/20||Sat||at Hou||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (3-6)|
|7/21||Sun||at Hou||RHP Felix Hernandez (10-4) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (4-3)|
|7/22||Mon||vs. Clev||RHP Aaron Harang (4-8) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4)|
|7/23||Tue||vs. Clev||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (0-0) vs. TBA|
|7/24||Wed||vs. Clev||LHP Joe Saunders (9-8) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (5-4)|
I thought Felix would start ahead of Kuma, hopefully they are trying to preserve his arm. 35% of pitchers on major league rosters at the start of the season have had Tommy John surgery. Given the wear on his arm it will be amazing if Felix doesn’t have to have it done, especially given that they found fraying of his ulnar collateral ligament when he took the physical for his contract extension. The condition rarely happens at one moment but rather is a result of accumulated wearing. The good news is the new ligaments usually last five years.