MLB Baseball

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Houston1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 451
Seattle2 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 x 7140
  W: A. Colomé (4-5)   L: C. McHugh (5-2)   S: E. Díaz (48)
7:10 PM PT8:10 PM MT9:10 PM CT10:10 PM ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 PM MST9:10 PM EST9:40 PM VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 PM CT, August 20, 2018
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington  Attendance: 27,072

Hernandez returns to Mariners' rotation vs. Astros

According to STATS
According to STATS

Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners

  1. The Astros dropped two of three against the A's, but were able to regain a one-game lead in the division with their 9-4 win yesterday. Houston hit five home runs in the win, the most the team has hit in a road game this season.
  2. After sweeping a four-game series in Houston from August 9-12, the Mariners have lost four of six. Seattle is averaging 3.71 runs per game post-All-Star break, second fewest in the AL (Tigers -- 3.63).
  3. With two series victories at Seattle this season, the Astros have won seven consecutive road series against the Mariners, the most consecutive road series won against any opponent in franchise history.
  4. Gerrit Cole recorded his seventh double-digit strikeout game of the season last start when he punched out 12 Rockies en route to a 12-1 Houston win. Dating back to last season, Cole has made 37 consecutive starts with at least five strikeouts, the longest active streak in MLB. The next closest are Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom with 17 straight.
  5. After a brief spell in the bullpen, Felix Hernandez will make his first start since August 7. In five career home starts against Houston, Hernandez has a 3.16 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.
  6. In 18 games in August, Mitch Haniger is slashing .356/.400/.534 with 10 doubles, 10 runs scored, and nine RBI. Haniger's improvement in batting average from July to August (.191  .356) is the largest in the American League (minimum 75 PA in July and 50 PA in August).
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 8/20/2018 thru 8/22/2018
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Felix Hernandez's banishment to the bullpen did not last long.

With staff ace James Paxton on the 10-day disabled list after taking a line drive off his left forearm in the first inning last Tuesday in Oakland, "King Felix" will return to the rotation when the Seattle Mariners host the American League West-leading Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series on Monday night.

Hernandez (8-11, 5.62 ERA) is scheduled to be opposed by Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole (11-5, 2.71).

Hernandez lost his spot in the rotation after going 8-10 with a 5.73 ERA in 23 starts this season.

After 398 career starts, the veteran right-hander made his first relief appearance after Paxton was hit by Jed Lowrie's liner.

Hernandez wound up going 5 2/3 innings in that game, allowing two runs -- both on a Lowrie home run -- and five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

"It was weird," Hernandez admitted. "I just tried to throw as many pitches as I could to get loose. It was a little different. But I'm a professional, so I had to do my job and I did it."

It was enough for manager Scott Servais to put him back in the rotation.

"You have to look at the options we have," Servais said. "I've said all along he could end up back in the rotation. I was hoping it wouldn't be something like (an injury). But he certainly stepped up. When Felix is throwing strikes at the bottom of the strike zone and competing like that, he'll get good results."

The Mariners could use a lengthy start from Hernandez after dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seattle sandwiched a 10-inning win around two losses while it was outscored by a combined 23-2 margin.

Utilityman Andrew Romine appeared twice on the mound in the series.

"Our bullpen has taken its toll," Servais said. "Unfortunately, it's where we're at. When the game gets out of hand like that and you have got to run a position player in there -- nobody wants to do it -- but (I'm) just trying to manage things going forward."

Hernandez will face the Astros for the first time this season. He's 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 12 career starts against them.

Cole is 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA in four career starts against the Mariners, three of them this season. He lost his past two against them, 2-0 on July 30 in Seattle and 5-2 on Aug. 10 in Houston.

The Astros regained sole possession of first place in the AL West with a 9-4 victory Sunday at Oakland, as Justin Verlander won his 200th career game and Houston blasted five home runs. The Athletics had tied the Astros atop the division by winning the first two games of the series.

"That was one of the tougher wins I've had to get this season," said Verlander, who was doused with champagne by teammates in the clubhouse after the game. "Our boys swung the bats and that made for a great day."

As for the AL West?

"It's a good race," Verlander said. "These guys (the A's) are no fluke whatsoever. We have the toughest division in baseball, without a doubt. The three teams are going to fight and claw all the way to the finish."

Updated August 20, 2018

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