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Game Preview No. 159: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners

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Scott Kazmir looks to finish his regular season strong heading into free agency, Astros scramble to regain a finger hold in AL Wild Card race

After such a wonderful, memorable season, the Astros are in dire straits to regain their postseason berth for 2015
After such a wonderful, memorable season, the Astros are in dire straits to regain their postseason berth for 2015
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (83-75) vs. Seattle Mariners (75-83)

September 30, 2015 9:10 PM CDT

TV:Root Sports SW, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM

Mariners SB Nation Blog: Lookout Landing

Pitching Matchup:

LHP Scott Kazmir (7-11, 2.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) vs. RHP Tony Zych (0-0, 3.55 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

Preview:

Scott Kazmir was brought in by the Houston Astros to win tonight's game.

Okay, that's a bit of hyperbole.

He WAS, however, brought in to win and help anchor the Astros starting rotation - along with Dallas Keuchel - and lead the team to the playoffs.

Well, the team is now a half a game out of the second Wild Card slot, and Scott Kazmir has been fairly inconsistent at his best recently...and hit very hard at his worst, recently.

No pressure, right?

Compound Kazmir's performance (along with the bullpen's, it wouldn't be fair to place everything on Scott's shoulders) by the presence of road grays on the backs of the Astros players, and the standings themselves with only three games remaining in the season, and this certainly appears to be a high leverage start...to say the least.

More appropriate, perhaps, would be to call this game what it is: a must-win game.

Opposing Scott Kazmir?

The entire Seattle Mariners bullpen, starting with Tony Zych.  He's never made a start as a professional, but all this really is for him is a relief appearance that starts in the first inning.  In 11 relief appearances for the Mariners this season, he's notched a 3.55 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12.2 innings with a 2.83 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 11.37 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, and a stingy 0.71 HR/9 ratio.  The Astros hitters will have to focus on patience and contact; try to get Zych to throw a lot of pitches per inning.  More than anything, the Astros are going to have to come ready to hit anyone Lloyd McClendon throws at them tonight...as they will likely not have the luxury of seeing a pitcher more than once through the lineup.  It's a very unusual event to play a game against a team utilizing exclusively relievers, and it seems on paper like it will present quite a unique challenge to Astros hitters who generally improve the more often they see a pitcher in a given game.

As far as the Mariners offense, several of the players have quite a few career at bats against Kazmir.  Most notably, Robinson Cano (last night's villain) is 6-19 with three home runs against Kazmir over the last five years.  Nelson Cruz is 4-20 without a home run in that span against Kazmir, and Kyle Seager is 3-16 against Kazmir.

The lineups for tonight's game were not available from either team prior to this article's publication.  They will be added once the team's confirm.

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