Game No. 84 Preview: Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Taijuan Walker makes his season debut for the second straight season in a row against Houston.

Houston Astros (36-47) vs. Seattle Mariners (44-38), 7:10 p.m. (CST)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Mariners SBNation BlogLookout Landing

Pitching matchup

RHP Collin McHugh (4-6, 2.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (2-1, 4.11 ERA, 1.44 WHIP in Triple-A Tacoma)

Preview

It's been a full day already, let's keep this preview to just one game. Everybody cool with that plan? Taijuan Walker, the top pitching prospect of the Mariners, seems to like to make an entrance against the Astros. Tonight will make his third start against Houston in just four total major league appearances in his you career. In his major league debut on August 30, 2013, Walker held the Astros to one unearned run over five innings for his first major league win. Sandwiched in between a start against the Royals, Walker faced the Astros again on September 9. The Astros would post two runs on five hits over five innings in no decision for Walker. In his three starts last season, he had a record of 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings of work.

Fast forward to this season, Walker was derailed by a shoulder injury the spring. He slowly worked his way back through the Mariners minor league system, and finally making six starts in Triple-A Tacoma. Walker had a record of 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA, 10 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. This included a one-hit, complete-game shut out of the Astros' Triple-A team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks. That was Walker's most recent start.

The Mariners may have 'Tai-Walker" (Yeah that was bad. I know it.), but the Astros have Doctor McHugh. Collin McHugh is everything the Astros could hope for and more from a guy they took a chance on. He has given up six earned runs over his last 18 innings, and lost all three straight decisions. Over two starts against the Mariners this season, McHugh has given up five earned runs on 11 hits over 10.2 innings. He had arguably his worse outing of the year giving up five earned over four inning in his first lost of the season.

Looking at Mariners lineup over the past week to see who's bat is hot. The Mariners outfield seems to have stepped up, Logan Morrison (1.173), Endy Chavez (1.150), and Cole Gillespie (.833) have an OPS over .750 in the team's last six games. Kyle Seager has been hitting out of his mind - going 14-for-24 with five extra-base hits in his last six games. Robinson Cano leads the Mariners in batting average for the season at .319, but he is hitting just .208 in his last 24 at-bats. Cano is 2-for-6 with a triple and two strikeouts against McHugh. Willie Bloomquist is 3-for-6 with a double against today's Astros starter.

Let's turn to the Astros lineup, which begins and ends with Jose Altuve. He is batting .476 (20-42) with six runs scored and 12 stolen bases in his last ten games. 12 stolen bases! He currently matched the mark set by Ray Chapman in 1917(and only the third person to do in baseball history) to have multiple steals in four straight games. George Springer has a .998 OPS in his last six games, he has five runs scored, two home runs, and five walks during that time. Alex Presely has come up big with Dexter Fowler out of the lineup with back tightness - he is 4-for-11 with two runs scored and three RBIs in those games. He will once again step in Fowler, out for a forth straight game.

Prediction

It's hard to predict one game, especially with the Mariners no longer in the basement with the Astros. They are winners in seven of their last 10 - 7.5 games back of the surging Athletics and just two back of the second place Angels. The force is strong with Tai-Walker, at least the force against the Astros is. Houston drops the opener with today's distractions swirling around.

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