It is “Turn Back the Clock Night” here at Safeco Field Saturday where the Seattle Mariners (24-23) will face the Houston Astros in Game 3 of a four-game series. And I have to say, the Mariners will be sporting a much better looking uniform tonight then what they wear every day during the season.
Seattle will run out RHP Brandon Maurer (1-2, 6.00 ERA) on 10 days rest as it looks to stretch a four-game winning streak against the Astros (counting the final two games in Houston May 3-4) to five. The Astros counter with LHP Brett Oberholtzer (0-6, 5.68 ERA).
Oberholtzer was a late addition to Houston’s probables for this series, taking the spot of LHP Dallas Keuchel who will pitch Sunday’s game against Hisashi Iwakuma instead of Scott Feldman. With the change, Seattle is in the midst of a stretch where it will face five left-handed starters in six games. It faced LHP Rudy Owens in his ML debut Friday, LHP Oberholtzer Saturday, LHP Keuchel Sunday, LHP Tyler Skaggs Monday, then a RHP in Jered Weaver followed by LHP CJ Wilson on Wednesday.
Because of that run and given the fact the Mariners’ everyday lineup is lefty dominant, right-handed hitter Stefen Romero will frequent the second spot in the order rather than Michael Saunders who has been on a recent hot streak. Saunders currently has a six-game hitting streak (10-for-23) in which he has bumped his average from .226 to .271. He will likely hit sixth or seventh through much of the upcoming stretch of games. Also, it seems likely that Willie Bloomquist and the switch-hitting Nick Franklin will get the starts at shortstop over the left-handed and slumping Brad Miller.
“I just try not to stack too many lefties in a row,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Try to get a little balance to the lineup, as much as we possibly can.”
As far as Maurer is concerned, with the numbers he’s put up over his five starts (1.66 WHIP, 6.00 ERA, 4.2 inning average), he better show some progress in a hurry or his job is in question with James Paxton perhaps one week away from rejoining the team.
“He’s got to get over the hump and start throwing quality pitches,” said McClendon.
1. James Jones (L) cf
2. Stefen Romero dh
3. Robinson Cano (L) 2b
4. Justin Smoak (s) 1b
5. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
6. John Buck c
7. Michael Saunders (L) rf
8. Dustin Ackley (L) lf
9. Willie Bloomquist ss