MARINERS @ ASTROS
April 3-6, 2017
It’s Opening Day again. Last year I waxed all sentimental-like on Opening Day, but this year I really just want to get down to business. Lofty expectations followed by an infuriating inability to post even a competent W/L record against an otherwise-average division foe reminded me that, yes, my favorite sports team is, in fact, located in Houston. Sure, the lineup saw a major overhaul in the offseason, and one SI writer is doubling down on his (in)famous prediction three years ago, but I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid. At least not yet.
So, in the spirit of very cautious optimism coupled with a generous helping of skepticism, I give you the 2017 Opening Series Reaction/Excuse Spectrum. Just like with premeditated political talking points, feel free to use any of these focus-group-tested1 reactions or excuses with your friends, on the TZ, or in tweets to Donald Trump.
1 “I don’t get it” – my wife
SOME CHANGES AT OWA
Win or lose, you won’t see a recap of the Opening Day game. Or tomorrow’s game, or the game after that. Like Old Yeller after that tussle with the wolf (spoiler alert), we’re finally putting the (attempts at) daily recaps out of their misery. If you would like to read about the events of a day’s game, feel free to head over to Astros.com, Crawfish Boxes, or Astros County.
This year we’re going to try combining recaps and previews into a sort of series (pre/re)view. You’ll get a summary of what just happened and a look at the series ahead, along with the
lame attempts at humor hilarious, biting commentary you’ve come to expect. Hopefully we’ll also be able to feature more editorial content, like MusicMan’s excellent 40 for 40 series.
WHAT HAPPENED DURING SPRING TRAINING?
- Went a cool .500 in the Grapefruit League
- Had two-fifths of the Astros rotation notch 7+ ERAs. No biggie.
- Played somebody named Brock Dykxhoorn. I hope it’s pronounced the way I think it is.
- Nearly won the Cactus League with a 19-14 record.
- Played a catcher named Marcus Littlewood.
GAMES AND PROBABLES
Monday, April 3 – 7:10pm CDT
Felix Hernandez (2016: 11-8, 3.82) vs. Dallas Keuchel (2016: 9-12, 4.55)
Both pitchers are coming off of injury-shortened 2016 seasons, and both pitched well in the spring. Seattle has had moderate success against Keuchel the last couple of years, but in the same span the Astros have not missed the King, especially at Minute Maid. Shapes up to be an interesting game either way.
Tuesday, April 4 – 7:10pm CDT
Hisashi Iwakuma (2016: 16-12, 4.12) vs. Lance McCullers (2016: 6-5, 3.22)
The Astros beat Iwakuma twice in 2016 while the Mariners split two games against McCullers. Both posted bad numbers (7+ ERA) in the spring. I just want to see McCullers not get cute with hitters and improve upon his 1.56 WHIP from last year.
Wednesday, April 5 – 7:10pm CDT
James Paxton (2016: 6-7, 3.79) vs. Charlie Morton (2016: 1-1, 4.15)
Morton looks like an early bright spot in the rotation and barely any of the Mariners have significant experience hitting against him. Paxton did well in the spring but a lesser Houston lineup didn’t have much trouble with him in 2016.
Thursday, April 6 – 7:10pm CDT
Ariel Miranda (2016: 5-2, 3.54) vs. Joe Musgrove (2016: 4-4, 4.06)
Both were August callups in 2016. Miranda turned in an impressive 2.92 ERA in September to aid Seattle to its 4th-place wild card finish. Musgrove let a handful of games get away from him but acquitted himself well for a rookie, as well as turning in a 2.08 ERA over seven spring starts.