Seattle at Houston, 7:10 pm (CT)
LHP Joe Saunders (8-8 / 4.24 ERA / 1.40 WHIP) vs. RHP Bud Norris (6-8 / 3.63 ERA / 1.41 WHIP)
The Astros are back to the grind, welcoming the Mariners once again to the Juice Box. At 5-4, the M's are one the few teams the Astros have a winning record against this season. Seattle entered the All-Star break, wining three of their last four series, including a three game sweep of the Angels.
Felix Hernandez and tonight's starter Joe Saunders together have posted five wins and a collective era of 1.27 ERA in the month of July thus far. Outside of these two pitchers, the Mariners has had rough month - 65 runs allowed is seventh highest total in the majors for July, only seven runs behind Houston. As for the M's offense has the second highest number of runs scored (71) in the majors this month, only behind the mighty Tigers offense.
On the other hand, the Astros limped into the break with only three wins in their last 12 games. The Astros hold the highest team earned-run average (5.83) and second lowest on-base percentage (.279) in the majors for the month of July.
Taking the mound today for might be his last time in a Astros uniform is Bud Norris. Norris continues to dominate at home with a 2.27 ERA in 11 starts. He matched his worst outing of the season in his last start, allowing seven earned runs over five innings against the Cardinals. Norris is 1-1 with 3.00 ERA against Seattle in two starts this season. In 17 at-bats against Norris, the red hot Raul Ibanez is batting .294 with a home run and 4 runs batted in. Ibanez over his last seven starts is batting .444 with two home runs and 5 runs batted in.
Over his last three starts, Joe Saunders has allowed only two earned runs over 20 2/3 innings. In his latest start, he held the Angels scoreless in seven innings of work. In two starts this season against Houston, Saunders has a record of 1-1 with 6.35 ERA. Chris Carter, who is still nursing an ankle injury, is batting .417 with a home run against Saunders lifetime. Ronny Cedeno and Matt Dominguez both are batting over .500 in five plus at-bats.