The good news for the Seattle Mariners is they didn’t have to face Justin Verlander in the current series against Houston, as Verlander pitched Sunday when the Astros clinched their third straight American League West title.
They got Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke instead.
Cole pitched seven scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts Tuesday in a 3-0 victory at Seattle. It was his 19th win of the season, matching his career high set with Pittsburgh in 2015, and in the process, he eclipsed J.R. Richard’s franchise record of 313 strikeouts in a season.
Cole went 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Mariners this season, with 50 strikeouts in 28 innings. He has 316 K’s total.
“What are you going to say?” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s basically dominating the league right now, and we’ve seen him a few too many times this year. We’re not the only team he’s shut down this year or will shut down the remainder of their season.”
Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA), who is 7-1 with a 3.48 ERA since being acquired from Arizona at the July 31 trade deadline, will take the mound Wednesday as the Astros go for a sweep of the two-game series in Seattle. The right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 13 career appearances against the Mariners, including 11 starts.
The Astros have defeated the Mariners in 17 of 18 meetings thus far in 2019.
Alex Bregman hit his 40th homer of the season in Houston’s Tuesday victory.
“(He had) the biggest smile on his face running the bases … comes back in the dugout super pumped,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Bregman. “That’s a big number in the middle of our order. He’s been the most consistent performer on our team, he’s been in our lineup virtually every game.”
Another of the Astros’ stars, shortstop Carlos Correa, was scratched from the lineup Tuesday because of tightness in his back. Correa returned from the injured list last week after missing 26 games with a back issue.
“Any time this happens the last week of the season, we’re going to err on the side of caution and take him out of the lineup,” Hinch said. “He probably could have gone. It’s one of those things where it’s a gray area, and with this thing, I’m not going to mess around with it. I’ll take it out of his hands.
“I’m glad he’s not in pain. I’m sure he wants to play. It’s the last week of the season, and I’m going to sit him.”
Correa, who is batting .279 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs in 75 games this season, also missed 50 games from May 27-July 21 after he broke a rib.
The Astros (103-54) are 1 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees (102-56) in the race for the best record in the majors and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Mariners (66-91) are scheduled to send rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (6-10, 5.55 ERA) to the mound Wednesday for his final start of the season. Kikuchi is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in three starts against the Astros.
In his latest outing, Kukichi lasted just four innings Thursday at Pittsburgh, allowing four runs on eight hits in a no-decision.
–Field Level Media