Mariners-Astros Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 21, 2013
Felix Hernandez couldn't have been much better in his latest outing, but even being perfect would hardly be a guarantee that the Seattle Mariners' offense will provide much assistance. Hernandez looks to build on his latest dominant performance while hoping he can get some more run support Monday night as the Mariners visit Houston for the first of three with the AL-worst Astros. Hernandez (1-2, 2.20 ERA) gave up one unearned run and four hits while striking out 12 over eight innings Wednesday against Detroit, but he left with the score tied at 1 in a game the Tigers went on to win in 14 innings. "I was trying to match it up and do my job," Hernandez said. "With that kind of lineup, you've got to be aggressive and be in attack mode. And that's what I did today." Getting little help is nothing new for the right-hander. Hernandez is 92-24 with a 2.95 ERA in the 153 career starts in which he's been given at least two runs of support. Seattle, though, has provided him with one run or none 89 times - nearly 37 percent of his career outings. He got one run of support in his previous appearance against the Astros, giving up four and 12 hits over six innings in a 6-1 loss in Houston in June 2007. The Mariners (7-13) have scored one run for him twice and two runs in Hernandez's other two starts this season, but the former Cy Young Award winner isn't the only pitcher they're struggling to support. Seattle averages an AL-low 3.05 runs per game, and it's totaled just 13 in its last eight after Sunday's 11-3 loss in Texas. The Mariners struck out 11 times, giving them 63 over the last five games. Only Houston (173) has whiffed more times this season than Seattle (167). "I'm just upset, to say the least, to our approach with two strikes, it's something that's been addressed, something that has to be better,'' manager Eric Wedge said. "The strikeouts are ridiculous. ... We kind of crashed as a team offensively.'' The Astros (5-13) would be averaging just over three runs if not for two explosive performances at Safeco Field earlier this month. Houston totaled 24 runs and 38 hits in those contests to take two of three. Brad Peacock (1-1, 5.27) was the beneficiary in that series finale, allowing three runs and four hits - including homers to Franklin Gutierrez and Kelly Shoppach - in an 8-3 victory. Peacock followed up his first win in an Astros uniform by giving up three runs over 4 1-3 Tuesday in a 4-3 loss at Oakland. "The first couple of innings I was getting the ball down, and then I did the opposite,'' Peacock said. "I felt like I had some of my best stuff tonight. This is still my first go-round.'' The trip to Seattle remains the Astros' lone series victory in their inaugural AL season. Houston had a chance to win another Sunday, but fell 5-4 to Cleveland. After hitting .300 with runners in scoring position over their previous eight games, the Astros went 1 for 23 in those situations in their series against the Indians. "We need to keep having those good situational at-bats,'' catcher Jason Castro said. "That is going to be what's key for us moving forward is for us to capitalize. Obviously, it's nice to get hits with nobody is on because that's how it starts. When guys are in position, get guys over and get them in any way you can.''
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