Following a successful extended road trip, the Seattle Mariners hope they've built enough momentum to halt their early home struggles.
As Taijuan Walker looks to continue his strong start on the mound, the Mariners try to generate some offense at Safeco Field and hand the struggling Houston Astros a fifth consecutive road defeat Monday night.
Seattle (9-9) has averaged 5.3 runs and homered 19 times while going 8-4 on the road. Kyle Seager belted a three-run homer and Seth Smith and Leonys Martin each delivered two-run shots as the Mariners completed a 6-3 trip with Sunday's 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
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"This was fun," manager Scott Servais told MLB's official website.
"We're anxious to get back home and play good there. That's kind of the last little hurdle. We're in a good spot, we feel good about ourselves."
Though it's been a small sample size to start, the Mariners have totaled 11 runs, hit .170 and struck out 50 times while opening 1-5 at still spacious Safeco Field. Perhaps the good news is that victory came in their most recent home contest April 13.
"I'm looking forward to getting our fanbase there fired up," Servais said.
Nelson Cruz is batting .326 with three home runs and nine RBIs on the road, but is 5 for 24 while going deep once at Safeco. Smith has hit .379 with two homers and six RBIs away but is 1 for 10 at home.
"We've got into a little bit of a rhythm here," said Seager, who is 2 for 22 at Safeco. "I think (the play on the road) is more the brand of baseball we'll be playing going forward."
Walker (1-0, 1.50 ERA) has looked solid no matter where's he pitched over three outings. He allowed an unearned run, three hits and struck out six over six innings of Wednesday's 2-1 victory at Cleveland.
''It's impressive," Servais said of Walker, who is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last three starts at Safeco. "He has the ability to make adjustments and manipulate the ball a little bit when he needs to and get it in the strike zone, in a good spot in the strike zone.''
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three home starts against the Astros (6-13), who are 17-11 at Seattle over the past three seasons.
However, Houston has an AL-worst 6.57 ERA while going 2-7 on the road.
The Astros hope former Mariner Doug Fister (1-2, 5.94) can build on a solid effort in this contest. The right-hander allowed nine runs in 10 2/3 innings of his first two starts but only a two-run homer over six of a 2-1 loss at Texas on Wednesday.
Fister is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA against the Mariners since they traded him to Detroit in July 2011, but he hasn't faced them or pitched at Safeco since 2013. However, he seems eager to return after yielding two runs in 14 innings of the two starts he made there since leaving.
"It's always a welcoming home for me," Fister said. "I really enjoy that park. It's a good park to pitch in. ... I'm looking forward to being there."
Colby Rasmus, who hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth inning of Houston's 7-5, 12-inning home defeat to Boston on Sunday, is 5 for 10 with two doubles and a home run against Walker.
Rasmus is 5 for 16 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last four games and has hit .389 in his last six in Seattle.