Astros riding seven-game winning streak, send Verlander up against King Felix

Field Level Media

April 13, 2019 at 1:20 pm.

The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners might want to consider wearing throwback uniforms to 2005 on Saturday night.

In was during that year that the Astros’ Justin Verlander and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez made their major-league debuts a month apart.

Between them, they’ve won 374 games, struck out more than 5,000 batters, been All-Stars 13 times, won two Cy Young Awards (one each) and made nearly $450 million.

That makes Saturday night’s matchup between the two in Seattle a special event, even if Verlander is still near the top of his game and King Felix isn’t quite the pitcher he used to be.

Verlander (1-0, 4.24 ERA) is coming off a 16-9 season in which he had a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts. Hernandez (1-0, 4.26) was a career-worst 8-14 with a 5.55 ERA in 2018, not winning a game after June 30.

Verlander is 12-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 25 career starts against the Mariners; Hernandez is 4-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 13 starts vs. Houston.

Hernandez won his season debut in 2019, beating the Los Angeles Angels, for his first win in 12 starts.

He was pulled after one inning Monday — his 33rd birthday — in Kansas City because of what the team called “virus-like symptoms.”

“I threw up like 14 times,” Hernandez told The Seattle Times. “With the way our team has been hitting, I knew I only needed to give them five innings.”

The Mariners have scored six or more runs in 14 of their first 16 games of the season and have set a major-league record by homering in each one — the longest streak to start a campaign.

The Astros took a page from the Mariners’ playbook Friday night, extending their winning streak to seven games with a 10-6 victory.

All 10 runs scored via home runs, as Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel hit grand slams and George Springer added a two-run shot.

“Pretty explosive, you know. Obviously we had to create some innings for ourselves and after falling behind early it was nice to see our guys come back,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “José (Altuve) puts us back in the game in a big way and then obviously Yuli (Gurriel) gets us some separation so just a good night, three homers obviously are big, it’s hard to hit homers in this ballpark. Just a good overall win.”

Altuve has now homered in four consecutive games, with five homers in that span.

“He’s just getting pitches to hit and destroying them. Even his outs have been really good. Which is not surprising, this guy is credentialed in this league as much as anybody. So, when he stays locked in like this, he’s a tough, tough out, and the damage that he’s done is because he’s hunting pitches that he’s getting.”

The Astros could get a boost with the return of third baseman Alex Bregman.

Hinch said Bregman, who hasn’t played since injuring his right hamstring Tuesday, is “trending toward” a return Saturday.

— Field Level Media