The Seattle Mariners created some minor buzz this off season by slightly bringing in some of the fences at Safeco Field to help the offense. So far in this home stand that theory has worked, but it worked for the other team. After the Mariners took their home opener 3-0 on Monday, they lost back-to-back games to the hapless Houston Astros giving up 24 runs in the process. This was not the result the Mariners were looking for in their first tangle with their new division foes, who had lost six in a row before taking back-to-back games.
Saunders Rebounds. After a rocky first start where Joe Saunders didn’t even make it to the fifth inning in a loss to Oakland, he rebounded to shut down the Astros and combine with three other Mariner relievers for a 3-0 shut out. Saunders went 6.1 innings and allowed six hits while striking out five. Kendrys Morales drove in two runs in the first three innings with a single and a double to give Saunders all the support that he needed.
Back of the Rotation Problems. The Mariners went 1-1 the first time their No. 4 and 5s pitched this season, the one win being winning an extra inning slug fest in Chicago. This time might have caused early panic alarms as the Astros smashed the starters in both games leading to resounding Astros victories: 16-9 Tuesday and 8-3 last night. The Astros snapped a six-game skid on Tuesday night by staking themselves to a 13-0 lead by the end of the 4th inning. Brandon Maurer, for most of his debut start in Oakland, didn’t make it out of the 1st inning getting tagged for seven hits and 6 ER while only retiring two Astro batters. Blake Beavan last night also found himself in an early hole as the Astros scored the first five runs on route to a 8-3 win. Beavan went 5.2 IP allowing nine hits and four earned runs. Maurer is now 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA in two starts while Beavan is 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA. As a staff, Seattle ended the Houston series with 5.40 ERA, 26th in Major League Baseball.
Roster Moves. The Mariners having already relied more on their bullpen than they wanted to was forced to make a roster move since they play 14 straight days. Lucas Luetge (4.1 IP, 0-0, 8.31 ERA) was optioned to Tacoma, and the Mariners called up Bobby LaFromboise. The 26-year-old left hander made his major league debut last night against Houston throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strike outs. Michael Saunders left last night’s game with a shoulder sprain after crashing into the outfield wall. It will be re-evaluated today, but Saunders (.286, 1 HR, 5 RBI) could be placed on the DL. The Mariners also lost Casper Wells. Wells, who missed out on the last roster spot to Jason Bay, was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Four vs. the Rangers. The good news for Seattle is that the front of their rotation is back up as the Texas Rangers invade Safeco Field for a four game set. Felix Hernandez, looking to avenge a loss in his last start against Chicago, will get the ball tonight followed by Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders, and Brandon Maurer, who was cleared after taking a line drive to the thigh in Tuesday’s loss to Houston. Despite losing Josh Hamilton, the Rangers have gotten at the box fast at a 6-3 start. They are coming off a 4-2 home stand, where they took two of three from both the Angels and Rays. They are 2-1 on the road this season with their previous road series being against Seattle’s last opponent, Houston.