Seattle at Houston, 6:10 pm (CT)
I struggle to start this preview not knowing what joke to lead with - football returning, the bullpen, or the offense. So many choices. Frankly any creativity has been sucked right out at this point in the season. We must solider on, because what is the point of being a fan if you aren't there through thick and thin?
Dallas Keuchel has been a point of interest for me the entire season, fighting his way into a rotation as the Astros' retreads fell away. The Arkansas product may not be (stealing a line from Keith Law) a "GUY", and he only "a guy". But, he's a guy that has kept the Astros in the game in a majority of his starts. He has quality starts in 9 of 17 starting appearances this season. In his most recent outing, he shut down the Blue Jays for seven innings.
Only four current Mariners have a hit in their careers against Keuchel, only two will be in the starting lineup today. The ageless Raul Ibanez has a solo home run in four at-bats. Kendrys Morales is 1-for-3 with a walk. Former Astro Humberto Quintero will get the start today for the catcher-strapped Mariners.
Joe Saunders has come a long way from holding the Rangers to one run over 5.2 innings in 2012 Wild Card round. He currently has a 7.16 ERA in the month of August, giving up 16 runs over his last 17.1 innings. Saunders is 2-0 this season against the Astros, giving up three runs over 11.2 innings over those two starts.
Brandon Barnes picked three parts of his cycle on July 19 against Saunders - a home run, triple and single in that order. In his career, Barnes is 4-for-6 against the left-hander. I can only hope that Joe Saunders may be a good starting point for Jose Altuve to finish the season strong - he is 4-for-12 with a run batted inagainst Saunders. Jason Castro is 3-for-6 with a double, and Chris Carter is 3-for-12 with a home run against Saunders. Matt Dominguez has three hits and two RBI in eight at-bats against Saunders. Robbie Grossman is 2-for-3 with two double in his career against M's starting pitcher.
Hopefully, with this kind of track record against Saunders, the Astros can break out on offense.