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Houston Astros (77-70) at Seattle Mariners (78-69)
Saturday, September 17 - 9:10 PM EST
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
The Houston Astros tightened things up a bit in the American League wild-card race by winning the series opener and look to make it even more interesting when they visit the Seattle Mariners on Saturday for the middle contest of their three-game set. Houston rolled past Seattle ace Felix Hernandez on Friday, scoring six runs over the first five innings en route to a 6-0 triumph that kept it four games behind Baltimore and Toronto for a wild-card spot.
Jose Altuve went 2-for-5 to maintain his AL-leading .341 average while Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis homered for the Astros, who have won back-to-back contests after dropping six of their previous seven. Seattle mustered only three singles as it had its eight-game winning streak halted and fell three games back in the chase for a wild card. The Mariners are even with Detroit in the standings - one game ahead of both Houston and the New York Yankees. Kyle Seager recorded one of Seattle's hits on Friday but remains one homer shy of reaching 30 for the first time in his career and four RBIs shy of eclipsing the personal best of 96 he set in 2014.
TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston, Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Mike Fiers (10-7, 4.64 ERA) vs. Mariners LH James Paxton (4-6, 3.97)
Fiers is coming off a rough outing against the major league-leading Chicago Cubs on Sunday in which he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. The loss ended the 31-year-old Floridian's four-game unbeaten streak during which he went 2-0 while allowing seven earned runs in 23 1/3 frames. Fiers has posted a 7.00 ERA without recording a decision in two career starts against Seattle, including an outing on July 6 in which he surrendered four runs and five hits - three homers - over 3 1/3 innings.
Paxton's winless streak reached four starts Sunday as he settled for a no-decision at Oakland after giving up only two runs and five hits in six innings. The 27-year-old Canadian has not won since Aug. 7, when he limited the Los Angeles Angels to one unearned run and five hits in 8 1/3 frames. Paxton lost his first career decision versus Houston on July 15, when he was reached for six runs and nine hits in five innings.
1. Altuve needs two hits to reach 200 for the third consecutive season, which would be the longest streak in the majors since Ichiro Suzuki recorded 10 straight with Seattle from 2001-10.
2. Seattle 1B Adam Lind has been kept out of the starting lineup by a sprained index finger for the last four games but may return Saturday.
3. Houston OF George Springer is one leadoff homer away from breaking Craig Biggio's franchise record of eight in a season, which he set in 2001, while the Astros are one shy of matching the league record of 15 reached by the Yankees in 2003.
PREDICTION: Mariners 5, Astros 4