On Saturday the Houston Astros found yet another way to display their enigmatic play when the team lifted their starting pitcher in the seventh inning because he had allowed three runs, yet somehow was still in possession of a no-hitter.
On Sunday afternoon the Astros hope they don't have to deal with such an unusual circumstance as they finish up a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
Houston, which closed out the first half of the 2013 campaign with back-to- back defeats and loses in five of the last six, has now bowed in four straight following the 4-2 setback yesterday that saw Erik Bedard make it through 6 1/3 innings without allowing a hit. However Bedard, who struck out 10, had more than his share of control problems as he walked five, which led to three runs scored.
Now 3-7 on the season, Bedard threw 109 pitches before exiting, his performance a microcosm of how badly things have gone for the Astros this season, their first as a member of the American League.
Offensively, the Astros scattered seven hits, two coming from Matt Dominguez, who scored one run, while Jake Elmore scored the other run for a home team that is now 30 games below .500 and a distant 22 1/2 games out of contention in the American League West.
Picking up the win for the Mariners, their fifth straight and seventh in the last 10 outings, was Hisashi Iwakuma, who permitted two runs on seven hits and a couple of walks, while fanning seven, over seven innings. Tom Wilhelmsen secured his 21st save of the season, yet the club is still fourth in the division standings and 11 games out.
Michael Saunders logged the first and only hit of the game for Seattle in the top of the seventh, a double to center that scored Justin Smoak and Mike Zunino with two outs.
The win marked the third time in franchise history that Seattle won a game while collecting just one hit. The previous two times were a 2-0 win over Texas on Aug. 15, 1989 and a 1-0 decision against the Yankees on April 27, 2002.
"I would say probably the strangest game I've been involved in from little leagues to the big leagues," said Houston manager Bo Porter, "where you give up one hit and punch out 15 guys and end up on the losing side."
A winner of two straight outings and his last five decisions overall, Felix Hernandez readies to take the mound for the Mariners this afternoon. The right-hander, who has not been defeated since Texas drummed up 11 hits and five runs back on May 25, is coming off his 10th win of 2013 last weekend versus the Angels.
In that contest, Hernandez threw eight shutout innings, scattering seven hits and striking out four in what turned into a 6-0 triumph for Seattle.
Back in April the hurler clashed with Houston on the road and came away with his second win of the season after allowing five hits and fanning nine in six shutout innings. For his career, Hernandez is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two contests against the Astros.
Jordan Lyles, who was originally slated to pitch on Saturday, now gets the call for today's matchup instead. The right-hander has gone winless in his last four outings, the two most recent contests resulting in no-decisions.
On July 10 the South Carolina native went up against the St. Louis Cardinals on the road, giving up four runs on six hits and a couple of walks, while striking out two in 6 1/3 innings.
Now more than a month removed from his last victory, Lyles did pick up a win against Seattle earlier this season in his first-ever appearance versus the Mariners, holding the club scoreless through seven innings while permitting three hits and striking out 10 on June 12.
The Mariners now lead the season series 6-5, having won three of five meetings in Houston.