Mariners look to maintain blazing pace vs. Astros

Whether the Seattle Mariners are for real could get a stern test this weekend.

The Mariners (13-2) return home after a 6-1 road trip to face the two-time defending American League West champion Astros. Like Seattle, Houston (8-5) has won six straight games.

The Mariners rallied for a 7-6, 10-inning victory Thursday at Kansas City. Mitch Haniger hit a two-run triple on a full count with two outs in the top of the ninth to tie it, and Dan Vogelbach's solo homer in the 10th provided the winning run.

Vogelbach has hit .462 (12-for-26) with six home runs and 11 RBI over the past seven games.

"That was awesome," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "What a team effort. Unbelievable series we had here and a great road trip and start to the season.

"Literally everybody in the bullpen and up and down the lineup is contributing. It's a great feeling. Confidence is building. It's a high. And we're riding the Vogey train. What can we say?"

The five members of the Mariners' rotation are a combined 9-0, and the offense has been record-setting.

Seattle has homered in all 15 games, breaking the mark of 14 at the start of a season set by the 2002 Cleveland Indians. The Mariners have hit 36 homers, tying them with the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals for the most through 15 games. And no other club has scored six or more runs in 13 of its first 15 games.

This from a team that was supposed to be in "step-back" mode after trading away Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Edwin Diaz and James Paxton in the offseason and letting Nelson Cruz walk as a free agent.

"The depth of our lineup and the quality of the at-bats we are putting together are exceptional," veteran first baseman/outfielder Jay Bruce, who missed Thursday's game due to a sore left Achilles tendon, told reporters. "It's something that we need to take advantage of as a team because no matter how rosy-colored the glasses are that you look through, it's not going to be like this all year. We are just trying to get good pitches to hit. It's a pretty consistent team-wide approach and a team-wide philosophy."

The Astros, who had a day off Thursday, are coming off three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, the first time they'd ever done that to the Bronx Bombers.

Diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve hit four home runs in the series, going deep in each game.

"I'm as surprised as you are," Altuve said of his power surge. "I'm not used to hitting this many homers in two or three games, but I'll take it. Anything you can do to help this team is great."

His teammates certainly appreciated it.

"He's a game-changer," Houston shortstop Carlos Correa said of Altuve. "He's really dangerous. It's crazy. I know he's got pop, but when he gets hot, nobody can stop him."

Mariners left-hander Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.76 ERA) faces that task Friday. He is scheduled to go against Astros lefty Wade Miley (1-1, 2.31), who made 19 starts for Seattle in 2016.

Miley is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three career starts against Seattle. LeBlanc is 1-1 with a 5.65 ERA in 10 career appearances against Houston, including six starts.

--Field Level Media
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