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May 5, 2024 3:48 am

Astros’ Hunter Brown seeks better results against Mariners

Hunter Brown

Before his current six-game hit streak, Seattle Mariners second baseman Jorge Polanco was finding other ways to contribute to a club that sits atop the American League West.

In the first two games of a three-game series with the Houston Astros, Polanco brought his bat along for the ride. The set concludes on Sunday.

After clubbing his fifth home run in the series opener on Friday, Polanco went 2-for-5 with a run in the Mariners’ 5-0 win on Saturday. His leadoff double in the fourth inning set the table for Mitch Garver’s RBI double, and Seattle led 2-0.

That was all the cushion right-hander Logan Gilbert needed in cruising to a victory.

“He’s made some really good plays defensively,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Polanco. “He’s ranging much better, certainly to his right. He’s got the ability to make that sidearm (throw). He’s had a couple of game-saving catches on the popups to right and right-center field.

“Offensively, he’s still not hit his stride. We’re starting to see some power come, getting some bigger hits. I know he’s not happy with it yet. He prides himself on being real consistent, and that hasn’t really happened yet.”

Right-hander Bryce Miller (3-2, 2.04 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Seattle on Sunday. He matched his career highs for innings (seven) and strikeouts (10) in his previous start, allowing one run on two hits and one walk in the Mariners’ 2-1 win over the visiting Atlanta Braves on April 28. Miller ranks third among qualified pitchers with a .156 opponent batting average.

Miller is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA over three career starts against the Astros. He was the pitcher of record in the Mariners’ 8-3 loss last Sept. 27 after allowing four runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts over four innings.

Right-hander Hunter Brown (0-4, 9.78) has the starting assignment for the Astros. He allowed six runs on five hits and two walks with a season-high seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings but did not factor into the decision of the Astros’ 10-9 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday.

Brown threw 97 pitches against Cleveland, his most since a 97-pitch outing against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 10, when he absorbed a 5-4 road loss.

Brown is 0-2 with a 17.47 ERA over two career starts against the Mariners. In his previous outing against Seattle, Brown allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings in a 7-6 home loss on Aug. 20.

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez was on the cusp of recording a quality start before surrendering a two-run home run to Cal Raleigh with one out in the sixth inning. Central to the Astros’ improved play of late has been the collective bounce-back of their starting pitchers.

In winning five of the previous six games, Houston received quality starts from Justin Verlander and Ronel Blanco, while rookie Spencer Arrighetti and Blanco both finished one out shy of recording quality starts during that stretch. Before his start against the Mariners, Valdez allowed two earned runs over five innings against the Colorado Rockies in Denver in his return from the injured list because of elbow inflammation.

“It sets the tone,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “It sets the pace of the game, the workload on the bullpen. Our offense, when they see a lot of zeroes on the board, especially early in the game, they get to settle down. Let’s get some at-bats instead of trying to play from behind.

“It’s been really important. They really have done a really good job.”

–Field Level Media

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