Which Seattle offense will show up when the host Mariners wrap up a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Sunday afternoon?
It’s a valid question considering what’s happened in the first two games of the series.
The Mariners banged out 13 hits in their home opener Friday, defeating the Astros 11-1.
Saturday night was a different story as the Mariners managed just three hits in a 4-0 loss.
Houston’s Justin Verlander pitched eight scoreless innings with no walks and eight strikeouts.
He earned his first win since beating Seattle on July 24, 2020 — opening day of the shortened 2020 season. Verlander then underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and missed all of last season.
“I wouldn’t have put in all the hard work if I didn’t think I could still pitch at a high level,” Verlander said. “But that being said, it is definitely gratifying to have that feeling again of going out there after a tough loss (Friday) and being able to pick us up and (go) deep in the game, and do really what I expect to do most times out.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais, a former major league catcher, said he was impressed by the 39-year-old Vernader’s performance.
“There’s only one thing to talk about (Saturday) and that was their starter,” Servais said. “Justin Verlander was outstanding. … Unfortunately, right when you think he might be slowing down, it’s as good as we’ve seen him.
“He was sharp as he could be. The fastball had all kinds of life. He located the slider and mixed in the curveball to the lefties. We really struggled to get anything going. That’s about as dominant a performance as you’re gonna see from a guy that has been doing it in this league for a long, long time.”
Shortstop Jeremy Pena, taking over after Carlos Correa signed a free-agent deal with Minnesota in the offseason, was the offensive catalyst for the Astros, going 3 for 3 with a double and triple. He scored twice and drove in a run.
Both teams will be shorthanded Sunday.
Seattle’s Mitch Haniger, who leads the team with three home runs and seven RBIs, was placed on the COVID-19 list Saturday after testing positive.
“Not great news,” Servais said. “But you have to deal with this stuff. It’s everywhere and you are starting to see it cropping up a little bit around the league and now it’s in our clubhouse.”
Astros All-Star closer Ryan Pressly was placed on the 10-day injured list because of right knee inflammation. He returned to Houston for additional examination.
Hector Neris closed out Saturday’s victory by retiring the side in order in the ninth.
Astros manager Dusty Baker was asked if Pressly’s injury caused a drop in velocity.
“I asked him and he said he didn’t think that it did but that’s your shove-off leg, too,” Baker said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s not going to make any alibis or excuses. We’ve just got to get him right.”
Astros right-hander Jose Urquidy (1-0, 1.80 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday against Mariners rookie right-hander Matt Brash (0-1, 3.38). Urquidy is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in four career appearances against Seattle, including three starts; Brash will be facing the Astros for the first time.
–Field Level Media