Houston Astros vs Seattle Mariners Preview and Free Pick

Houston (48-41) at Seattle (45-44)
When: Friday, July 15th 2016
Where: Safeco Field, Seattle, WA
Time: 10:10 ET | TV: ROOT Houston, Seattle

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The Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners will begin the second half of the season both chasing the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Seattle will start 8.5 games out and will need more consistent play in the second half. They have the offense that can compete with Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz ranking among the league leaders in multiple categories, while the first-base platoon of Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee have combined for 25 home runs. Cano is hitting .463 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 10 games this season against the Astros. Houston started the season with a 7-17 April, but are now seven games over .500 and only 5.5 games behind Texas. Houston is 31-13 since May 23rd and swept the Mariners back in Houston earlier this month. Houston OF Colby Rasmus missed the last four games before the All-Star break with an ear infection but is expected to return Friday. Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez (calf) remains on schedule to return from the disabled list on July 20th.

Pitchers: Astros – Doug Fister (8-6, 3.55 ERA) | Mariners – James Paxton (2-3, 3.91)

Doug Fister will get the first start of the second half for Houston after his strong outing last Sunday against Oakland. Fister allowed just two runs and three hits over eight innings, but was the hard-luck loser. The 32-year-old veteran has lost three straight outings after winning his previous seven decisions. Fister is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners including 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two outings earlier this season.

James Paxton has been solid for Seattle going 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 38 strikeouts in his last seven starts. Paxton allowed two runs over eight innings in last Thursday’s outing against Kansas City while only throwing 78 pitches. He has worked at least six innings in five of his last seven starts. Paxton allowed two runs and struck out seven over seven innings in his only previous start against the Astros on April 30th, 2015.

Houston is playing some good ball right now and looks like the team that made the playoffs last year. Fister is 5-3 on the road this season and the Astros just got done sweeping the Mariners a few weeks ago. I like Houston in this first game.

Pick: Astros +115

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