The Seattle Mariners try to put the brakes on a six-game losing streak on Thursday when they open a four-game set with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
After getting swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Mariners suffered a similar fate at the hands of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, culminating with a 12-4 shellacking on Thursday at Safeco Field.
Felix Hernandez was rocked for nine runs in just three-plus innings, while Dustin Ackley added an RBI double in the ninth for the Mariners, who failed to muster a win during their six-game homestand.
"I thought we showed signs of some fight and better (at-bats) and better play, but overall we're still pretty sloppy as a ball club and not executing, whether it be offensively or defensively," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge
Hoping to reverse their fortunes on Thursday the Mariners will lean on righty Erasmo Ramirez, who is 4-1 with a 5.44 ERA. Ramirez suffered his first loss of the season on Saturday to the Angels, despite a decent showing that saw him surrender two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
His only mistake was a Mike Trout two-run home run.
"He took a bat to my mistake and it was 2-0 in the first inning," Ramirez said. "But after that, I put in my mind that two runs are already there, so I'm still in the game and need to just go as deep as I could, because I still had the ball in my hands."
Houston, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jordan Lyles, who has come out of the bullpen of late for the Astros and earned a save in his last appearance on Monday in Chicago.
Lyles, though, has won his last two starts and is 6-6 on the year with a 5.44 ERA.
"In the long run, we have to continue to get better so that we have an opportunity next year for these kids to finish the year and say: 'You know what? I have a shot at the rotation,'" Houston pitching coach Doug Brocail told the team's website. "There's only so many big league jobs, and they're precious jobs."
Houston, of course, owns the worst record in the majors at 44-88 and enters this series having lost three of four.
Seattle has won seven of 12 from the Astros this season and has won five of the last six matchups.