(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (83-71) conclude their series in Houston before heading to Toronto for four games. The Astros blew the doors off early in Saturday’s affair but Seattle benefitted from the A’s and Royals both also losing.

Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Game 3: Sunday, 11:10 AM PT @ Houston Astros — Hisashi IWakuma, RHP vs. Collin McHugh, RHP
Iwakuma struggled again last time out and I diagnosed that he’s not only failing to command his splitter, he’s simply throwing it too much. Sunday, Iwakuma faces an Astros lineup that has beat him twice in 2014, hit him three times and knocked him out in the fifth inning at Safeco Field September 10.

Lloyd McClendon is likely to have a quick hook from here on out, so if Iwakuma gives up two or three runs the first two times through the lineup, he’s not likely to get the chance to continue.

Look for the Astros to go as heavy on left-handed bats as they can, suggesting Marwin Gonzalez and Marc Krauss start the game and the club’s regular lefty bats — Robbie Grossman, Jason Castro, Jonathan Singleton and switch hitter Dexter Fowler — remain or are reinserted.

Iwakuma Splits:
LHB: .254/.326/.454, 14 HR
RHB: .191/.254/.342, 8 HR
Home: 2.40 ERA, 8 HR, .185 BAA
Road: 4.40 ERA, 14 HR, .271 BAA

Iwakuma vs. Astros
Jose Altuve: 9-22, 2-2B, 2 SO
Chris Carter: 3-20, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 8 SO
Jason Castro: 4-20, BB, 6 SO
Carlos Corporan: 0-3
Matt Dominguez: 6-21, 2B, BB, 5 SO
Dexter Fowler: 2-8, 2B, BB, 3 SO
Robbie Grossman: 1-7, 4 SO
Marwin Gonzalez: 7-12, 2B, HR, 2 SO
Marc Krauss: 2-6, HR, 2 SO
Alex Presley: 4-11
Jon Singleton: 0-4, BB, 2 SO
Jonathan Villar: 2-7, 2B, 3B, 2 SO

Scouting Collin McHugh
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (90-92 mph): 50
Slider (85-87): 60
Curveball (80-82): 60
Changeup (78-81): 45
Control: 60
Command: 60

McHugh Splits :
LHB: .222/.281/.328, 6 HR
RHB: .190/.252/.308, 6 HR
Home: 3.33 ERA, 8 HR, .205 BAA
Road: 1.86 ERA, 4 HR, .214 BAA

McHUgh vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 0-7, BB, 5 SO
Robinson Cano: 2-12, 3B, 4 SO
Endy Chavez: 0-5, BB, SO
Corey Hart: 2-5, SO
Austin Jackson: 1-3
James Jones: 2-3
Brad Miller: 1-7, HR, SO
Kendrys Morales: 0-3
Logan Morrison: 1-4, HR, 2 BB
Kyle Seager: 0-10, 5 SO
Michael Saunders: 3-10, HR, BB, 2 SO
Justin Smoak: 1-4
Mike Zunino: 1-8, HR, 5 SO
Stefen Romero: 0-2, SO

McHugh, like Saturday’s starter Dallas Keuchel, has dominated the Mariners this season. Combined, the M’s are 17-for-89 versus McHugh, producing a .191/.234/.360 triple-slash. The right-hander beat the M’s September 9 at Safeco Field, allowing just two hits and an earned run.

Seattle did get to McHugh at Minute Maid Park back in June when they hit three homers and plated five runs on five hits. McHugh walked four in that one but he hasn’t issued a walk since August 23, a span of 119 batters.

His command of a solid-average fastball with movement to his arm side sets up an average but effective changeup, a plus curveball and plus slider. Right-handed batters have been tortured by McHugh, who over his last six starts has yielded but 10 earned runs and two long balls in 60 innings of work.

The Mariners have to be aggressive early in the game, rather than attempting to work the count. McHugh is eating alive the patient hitter by getting ahead, which allows him to get to his terrific breaking pitches.

For the year, opponents are batting just .180/.211/.257 after a first pitch strike. When batters have put the ball in play on the first pitch against him, those numbers leap to .298/.320/.383.

With two strikes, McHugh goes to the breaking balls more than 60 percent of the time. Until he gets to such a count, he’s very aggressive with the fastball to both lefties and righties alike.

Wild Card Schedule
The Kansas City Royals send right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to the mound versus Detroit and Tigers sinker baller Rick Porcello. Porcello has fared well versus the current Royals lineup while Guthrie has had problems with Miguel Cabrera (who hasn’t?), Torii Hunter, Alex Avila, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez.

Altogether, the Tigers current roster boasts a .326/.366/.497 line versus Guthrie. The Royals current roster has hit Porcello at a .251/.296/.395 clip.

The Oakland Athletics host the Philadelphia Phillies in the series finale. The A’s send lefty Scott Kazmir to the mound against right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Kazmir has been inconsistent of late, but so has Burnett. The latter has held A’s batters to 17 hits in 110 at-bats (.155/.266/.264).

A loss by the Royals and A’s plus a win by Seattle gives the Mariners the lead over Kansas city in the Wild Card race and puts Oakland and Seattle in a virtual tie.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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