While a lack of run production has plagued the Seattle Mariners all season, Felix Hernandez has provided them with their only quality start during a six-game losing streak.
The Houston Astros have had to endure similar troubles throughout their seven-game skid.
One of these streaks will come to an end Monday night, though the Mariners appear to have the advantage with Hernandez looking to continue his early-season dominance in the opener of a three-game home set.
Since totaling 26 runs in a season-opening sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle (7-11) has averaged 2.7 runs and batted .207 while dropping 11 of 15.
”We’ll get out of this,” said reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who was credited with a blown save Sunday after giving up two eighth-inning runs in a 3-2 defeat at Miami. "We have a much better team than what we’re showing.”
The Mariners had been able to stay close in most games behind a rotation that posted a 2.73 ERA in their first 11. But those starters have struggled with a 5.88 ERA while working into the seventh inning only once during the team’s current slide.
Hernandez (3-0, 1.91 ERA) outpitched Yu Darvish in that performance Wednesday, allowing one run and four hits while striking out nine over seven-plus before the defense and bullpen blew his lead in a 3-2 loss at Texas.
Now the four-time All-Star will try to win his first four decisions for the first time since 2009. He was dominant against the Astros (5-14) last season, giving up nine hits and fanning 16 over 12 scoreless innings to win his two starts.
Hernandez should have a chance to continue that trend against a Houston team that ranks last in the majors in runs (52), batting average (.192) and on-base percentage (.265). Jonathan Villar, Jesus Guzman, Matt Dominguez, L.J. Hoes, Alex Presley, Marc Krauss and Chris Carter are among those hitting below .200.
On Sunday, Houston managed only five hits and scored its only run on a Marwin Gonzalez fourth-inning homer in a 4-1 loss at Oakland. While the Astros have totaled just 14 runs during their losing streak, their rotation isn’t helping with a 5.40 ERA.
”We have an underperforming team right now, and when you underperform and make the mistakes that we make, this is going to be the result," manager Bo Porter said.
Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.50) will try to give Houston a lift after allowing two runs over six innings in a 6-4, 11-inning home loss to Kansas City on Wednesday. Since giving up four runs over five frames in his first outing, the left-hander has surrendered just three runs over 13 innings in his last two.
Keuchel went 0-2 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against Seattle last season, striking out 14 in 13 innings.
Seattle’s Corey Hart has swung the bat well, going 8 for 16 with a homer and three doubles over his last four games. He’s also homered twice in six career at-bats when facing Keuchel.
Robinson Cano broke out of a 4-for-25 slide with a double and single Sunday, giving him four extra-base hits – one homer – in 18 games this season. The former Yankee has batted .378 with two homers over a 10-game hitting streak against the Astros.
The Mariners have dropped four straight home meetings, and were outscored 25-7 in Houston’s three-game sweep in September.