|Mariners can go home again -- vs. Astros|
The Seattle Mariners will get a chance to finish their eight-game homestand at home.
The Mariners, who have been displaced for the past five games because of poor air quality due to wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, will return to Seattle to play host to the Houston Astros on Monday night.
The Mariners (23-30) went 1-4 as the "home" team in San Francisco and San Diego, including a 7-4 loss in 11 innings Sunday afternoon to the Padres.
"We are ready to come back," Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the game. "There's no question about that. I give our guys a ton of credit; you didn't hear any complaining ... or anything else about the situation we were in. That's the hand we were dealt, and we've got to play the cards that are in our hand."
The rebuilding Mariners enter the final week of the pandemic-shortened season still in the expanded playoff race, even if their chances are slim.
The Mariners are four games behind the Astros (27-26) -- who won 3-2 Sunday against visiting Arizona behind George Springer's two home runs -- for second place in the American League West. Since the Astros already have clinched the season series against Seattle -- they're 24-2 against the M's over the past two seasons -- it's actually a five-game deficit as Houston owns the tiebreaker.
"I can't fault our effort at all on this entire trip," Servais said. "The guys have come in and they've prepared like they should. They're learning. They're making adjustments along the way. These were meaningful games for us, and we're learning a lot from it. We've got some more meaningful ones, a big series coming up against the Astros, so we're excited to get back home."
Right-hander Justin Dunn allowed just two hits in 5 2/ 3 innings Sunday, and Dylan Moore hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth to force extra innings.
The Mariners are scheduled to send ace left-hander Marco Gonzales (6-2, 3.49 ERA) to the mound for the series opener. Gonzales took the loss on Opening Day in Houston in his worst outing of the season, but has gone 6-1 since and has walked just four batters in 52 1/3 innings. Gonzales, however, has struggled against the Astros, going 0-5 with a 7.22 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts.
The Astros are set to start right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (3-2, 4.87 ERA). McCullers returned from a stint on the injured list to pitch seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits, against the Rangers last Wednesday. McCullers is 7-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 13 career starts against Seattle.
"This is a big series," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "You never thought you'd be saying that when they were here earlier. I think we're ready."
Springer, who hit an inside-the-park homer in the sixth inning and a tying solo shot in the seventh on Sunday, might have been playing his final series this past weekend in an Astros uniform at Minute Maid Park, as he's a free agent this offseason.
Springer said he wasn't worried about that with the club still pushing for a playoff spot.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it," Springer said.
--Field Level Media