Houston vs. Seattle, 7:10 PM CT
Walking into Minute Maid Park last night, I had one thing on my mind - Astros, please don't make history tonight. The formula felt right, Cy-Young caliber pitching facing a lineup with Carter, Pena, and Ankiel starting. The stars were aligned for Mariners ace to repeat his not so distant history. Thankfully the only history was King Felix's 100 win. Opening Night starter, Bud Norris toes the rubber in hopes of ending the Astros three game slide. Norris will be facing the present surprise of the Seattle staff, Hisashi Iwakuma.
There is only one key for Bud Norris tonight, he must find a way to at least last till the sixth inning. The last Astros pitcher to get out the sixth inning was Philip Humber on April 14. The bullpen has had to pitch 41 innings over the past seven games. In Norris' last outing in Oakland; that only lasted 2/3 of an inning - giving up six earned runs. The Astros staff in general is struggling with getting behind in the count, in Norris' last start - 22 of 46 were called balls. Norris is relatively new to the Mariners and needs to work his slider more off the fastball.
Speaking of Iwakuama, the Japanese important didn't make a start in 2012 until July 2. In those 2012 starts, Iwakuama posted a 2.65 ERA. The good times have continued into this season, in four starts Iwakuama has only given five earned runs total. Iwakuama worked six scoreless innings against the powerful Detroit lineup. It should be interesting to see the Astros jumped out the skillet and into the fire, going from Hernandez to Iwakuama.