Mariners-Astros Preview

Even a rare victory for the Houston Astros didn’t come without

bad news.

After losing an everyday player to injury in Tuesday’s win over

the Seattle Mariners, they’ll turn to Lucas Harrell on Wednesday at

Minute Maid Park as they seek only their second series win of the

season.

Center fielder Justin Maxwell is out indefinitely for Houston

(6-14) as he was placed on the disabled list following Tuesday’s

3-2 win after being hit by a pitch in the third inning.

“I have to see the hand specialist tomorrow,” said Maxwell, one

of four Astros to start every game thus far. “But at least we got

the win out of it.

Maxwell was hit with the bases loaded, so he can at least say he

got credit for bringing home what turned out to be the winning

run.

Bud Norris gave up a run in five innings, but it’s been eight

games since Houston has had a starter make it through six. The

rotation has a 12.77 ERA in that stretch.

Harrell (1-2, 4.98 ERA), who didn’t face the Mariners when

Houston took two of three in Seattle earlier this month, has made

it through 5 2-3 in his last two outings. He walked five and

allowed five hits Friday against Cleveland, but gave up only two

runs in a 3-2 victory.

The right-hander is walking 5.40 batters per nine innings, one

of the majors’ 10 worst rates.

“I was struggling to throw strikes again, it’s just kind of been

a trend right now,” Harrell said. “It’s something I need to work

on between starts and definitely focus on that.”

Harrell may not exactly have his work cut out for him as he

takes on a Seattle offense that has been anemic. Tuesday marked the

sixth time in eight games the Mariners (8-14) were limited to two

runs or fewer, and the team is batting .226 on the season.

Seattle is 6 for 37 (.162) with runners in scoring position as

it’s dropped four of five on this road trip.

“I do think we have guys heading in the right direction,”

manager Eric Wedge said. “That is obvious by the quality of the

at-bats. Having said that, it’s all about winning and losing, and

we have to do a better job of finding a way to win ballgames.”

Before returning home, the Mariners give the ball to Joe

Saunders (1-2, 4.50), who has already stifled Houston once. He

threw 6 1-3 shutout innings against the Astros on April 8, limiting

them to one hit, but was shelled by the Rangers on Friday for seven

runs on nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Walks also have been a serious issue for Saunders, who’s 1-0

with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Astros. He’s yielded 10

in 22 innings – including two in a six-run fifth against Texas.

Both offenses continue to see individual bright spots with

Seattle’s Kyle Seager and Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez. Seager has hit

safely in a career-best 12 games, going 17 for 45 (.378) in that

span with seven doubles, two homers, and eight RBIs. Before that,

he was 5 for 34 (.147) in nine games.

Gonzalez connected for a solo homer on Tuesday, his third this

year in 45 at-bats. He totaled two all of last year in 205 ABs.