GAME: Mariners (59-73, 4th, AL West, -18.5 GB) at Astros (44-88, 5th, AL West, -33.5 GB) GAME #: 133. SERIES: 1st of 4 games. MEETING: 13th (Mariners lead 7-5). WHEN: Thursday, 5:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park. STREAKS: Mariners L 6; Astros L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
If the Mariners are to finish the 2013 season with any credibility, they have to win the four-game series with the Houston Astros that starts Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, and probably sweep it. Houston roosts in last place in the AL West, careening toward more than 100 losses. A failure to produce here by the Mariners would represent a dramatic step back from last year, the 11th in a row sans playoffs.
The Mariners (59-73) have nothing but negative momentum heading into Minute Maid Park. They have lost six in a row, their second-longest losing streak of the season, are coming off a winless home stand (0-6) — the first in franchise history that included more than four games — and are headed to another 90-loss season.
With the season in the dumpster no matter what happens in Houston, the Mariners will trot out two young pitchers in the series who figure prominently in their 2014 plans, Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker.
Walker, a 21-year-old and deemed the top pitching prospect in the Mariners system, will make his major league debut Friday, having been summoned from AAA Tacoma to take Aaron Harang’s spot on the rotation. Ramirez works Thursday.
Ramirez ran his record to 4-0 without recording a quality start, before losing in his last outing in what was a quality start, against the Angels. He will oppose Jordan Lyles, who whiffed 10 Mariners the last time he faced them.
MARINERS: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-1, 5.44 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
The 23-year-old Ramirez, a Nicaragua native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his eighth start and first against the Astros. Ramirez allowed two earned runs in his second quality start in his last start but came away with his first loss. He will be facing the Astros for the first time in his career.
- LAST START: Aug. 24 at Safeco Field, lost to the Angels 5-1; 2 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 112 pitches, 75 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ASTROS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. ASTROS: No record.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: Never pitched.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Ramirez has never faced a member of Houston’s roster.
ASTROS: RHP Jordan Lyles (6-6, 5.17 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
The 22-year-old Lyles, a Florence, SC., native in his third major league season, all with Houston, will make his 21st start and second against the Mariners. After losing five decisions between June 23-Aug. 6, Lyles has won his last two, including a 12-4 victory over Toronto Aug. 23. The last time Lyles pitched against Seattle, June 12, he recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts.
- LAST START: Aug. 23 vs. Toronto, won 12-4; 4 earned runs on 10 hits in 7.1 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 home runs, 115 pitches, 71 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: June 12 at Safeco Field, took a no-decision in Houston’s 6-1 win; 0 earned runs on 3 hits in 7.0 innings; 10 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 107 pitches, 67 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-1, 7.36 ERA in 2 starts covering 11.0 innings; 13 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, 1.36 WHIP.
- AT MINUTE MAID PARK: 9-13, 5.00 ERA in 34 games, including 31 starts, covering 181.2 innings; 135 strikeouts, 60 walks, 23 home runs, 1.42 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (0-for-5, .000), Endy Chavez (1-for-6, .167), Raul Ibanez (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (2-for-3, .667), Nick Franklin (3-for-6, .500), Michael Morse (2-for-7, .286).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. LYLES: 14-for-49, .286 BA, 13 strikeouts, 4 walks, 2 home runs, .364 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Four at Houston (Thursday-Sunday), four at Kansas City (Monday-Thursday). The Mariners are amid of 20 games in 20 days. The Mariners return to Safeco Field Sept. 6. for a series with Tampa Bay. The Mariners do not have a day off until Thursday, Sept. 12.
- The 3.0 innings pitched by Felix Hernandez Wednesday against Texas matched the lowest of his career (also 2005). The eight earned runs he permitted established a career high.
- Hernandez is 0-4, 7.57 ERA with 11 walks in five starts against Texas this season. He’s 12-20 for his career as the Rangers became the first team to beat him 20 times. Over his last five outings, Hernandez’s ERA has jumped from a league-leading 2.30 to 2.97. His Cy Young chances have crashed.
- Shortstop Brad Miller will take a career-high eight-game hitting streak into Houston.
- Raul Ibanez had his first RBI since Aug. 15 in the series finale with Texas Wednesday.
|8/29||Thr||at Hou||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-1) vs. Jordan Lyles (6-6)|
|8/30||Fri||at Hou||RHP Taijuan Walker (0-0) vs. RHP Brad Peacock (3-4)|
|8/31||Sat||at Hou||LHP Joe Saunders (10-13) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-7)|
|9/1||Sun||at Hou||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (3-1)|
Felix Hernandez is supposed to be the M’s’ “stopper” — he is supposed to WIN games like last night, to stop M’s’ losing streaks. Instead, he got shelled, and the losing streak was extended.
The $175 million, 7-year deal the M’s gave Hernandez is a major mistake. That is way too much for the M’s to pay any pitcher, unless he wins at least 20 games every year. The Yankees could afford to pay Hernandez that much, but the M’s can’t. The M’s should try to trade Hernandez for one of the best hitters in baseball, like Mike Trout, or else trade him for some other excellent pitcher who is still young and not making much money.
Felix playing for the M’s is just a waste: a waste of Felix’s career; and a waste of the M’s’ money and opportunity to get some younger, lower-paid players.
Thing is, these clowns have the market size, the stadium, the fans and the money to get players to support Felix. All pitchers have bad streaks, and we should expect it more often when a guy has to go out there every time as a stopper– not as a contender. These clowns just play the corporate ‘operating profit’ game and care not a bit — nor have expertise and competence– in the realm of major league baseball. They hide out when they may be criticised; they do their disingenuous mealy-mouth SEgrin blather when they DO speak in public. We fund their coproate home; they do nothing of consequence to enhance their franchise for our benefit; they reap the franchise-appreciation benefit to the tune of millions. We shoud be furious about their pick-pocket thievery, root for Felix from our living rooms far from Safeco, withold our money and share our scorn for the state of the franchise and the clowns who are taking advantage of the gift they were given— using it for soley for their own personal enrichment.
We’re stuck seeing our one player worthy of being a major league star struggling to save the team every 5th day, making $175m via a contract that is without a context that makes any sense at all. You got that right, for sure. Agreed.
Go figure. When the team dicovers and occupies another low–finding a trough deeper than the miriad troughs in which they’ve wallowed in the absolutely pathetic Lincoln/Armstrong tenure– Ackley starts to hit. Is he a no-pressure-only prospect? Or, is the team so fractured as a cohesive, confident unit (that they should be and Wedge says they are) that they have also hit a realm of psychological dysfunction as yet unimagined?
It begins and ends at the top– see Nolan Ryan steps in to the Rangers organization; see Billy Bean makes something out of nothing, again. They happen to be qualified baseball people, savvy, assured and not living and acting in the creepy corporate mindset that permeates all of the Ms monolith.
Can’t we litigate for non performance of their contract to operate the stadium in a manner that serves the public?
“If the Mariners are to finish the 2013 season with any credibility,…”Uhhh… way too late.