Astros-Mariners Preview

Offense was difficult to come by for most of the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros’ series opener.

Runs could be limited again Tuesday night when these clubs reconvene with young pitchers that have been stingy of late.

The Mariners (79-64) claimed a 4-1 victory Monday – their sixth in seven contests – to pull within a game of Oakland for the AL’s top wild-card spot while maintaining a half-game edge over Detroit. The teams were a combined 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position, but two of those hits came in Seattle’s three-run eighth inning. Brad Miller’s triple brought home two runs and he also singled, improving to 11 for 23 with six RBIs over his last eight games.

Miller had been hitting just .198 prior to that stretch.

"I’ve said all year, and a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I believe he’s an offensive player in this league," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He’s struggled quite a bit early but I think it’s starting to pay off a little bit now."

Jose Altuve was 0 for 3 with a walk Monday, ending his hitting streak at 14 games. The Astros (63-81) have dropped four straight against Seattle, totaling five runs in the last three.

They could be offensively starved again Tuesday against Roenis Elias (10-12, 3.90 ERA). The left-hander has a 2.16 ERA over his last eight starts, though he’s just 3-4 in that span. He ended a three-start losing streak Thursday with a 10-2 win at Texas, giving up one run in five innings.

The rookie limited Houston to one run over 5 1-3 innings in Seattle’s 3-1 home win on May 22 despite four walks.

Elias has lost two straight home starts, though he owns a 2.33 ERA in his last five games at Safeco Field after posting a 5.14 mark through his first 10 outings there.

Collin McHugh (8-9, 2.89) figures to be tough on the Mariners as well after going 4-0 with a 1.79 ERA in seven starts since his last loss on July 27.

He’ll be looking to complete at least seven innings for the third straight start for the first time in his career after giving up a combined three runs in 14 2-3 innings in victories over Texas and the Angels.

"Being able to make pitches when you need them, that was really important for me tonight," McHugh, who struck out eight in Wednesday’s 4-1 win against Los Angeles, told MLB’s official website. "…You’ve got to try to make good pitches and try and execute as well as you possibly can.

McHugh leads all Houston starters with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s fanned 24 over 16 2-3 innings in three matchups against the Mariners this year, though he’s just 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. He’s given up five earned runs in two losses after throwing 6 2-3 scoreless innings in a 5-2 road victory on April 22.

Michael Saunders, who was 1 for 2 with two walks Monday in his first game after being out since July 10 with a strained oblique, is 3 for 7 with a home run against McHugh.