Joe Musgrove #59 starting – 710 pm CST
rooftop suite – wine and dine
HOUSTON — Joe Musgrove worked his way up from being a midseason call-up in August a season ago to earning an Opening Day roster spot in 2017.
Musgrove came out of the gates hot in his major-league debut, striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings against Toronto before getting his first career start against the Texas Rangers.
Musgrove hopes for another successful debut when he takes the ball to begin his 2017 season as the Houston Astros host the Seattle Mariners on Thursday at Minute Maid Park in the finale of their season-opening four-game series. The Astros won the first three.
Musgrove went 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA last season, striking out 55 and walking 15 in 62 innings.
This spring, Musgrove more than held his own by allowing six runs in 26 innings, catching the attention of Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who slotted Musgrove for the No. 4 spot in the rotation.
“I think his preparedness has continued from last season to this year,” Hinch said. “I think his understanding of his pitch usage has grown. I guess that’s a little different, but it’s more of maturity. It’s not a huge change, just a general maturity across the board for him. … He’s another guy that needs to adapt to facing some left-handed hitters, which they have a couple of good ones.
“More than anything it’s a step forward for him maturity-wise and learning the league and learning himself and how to put those two things together.”
The Mariners’ rotation already has taken a pair of hits this season: Felix Hernandez left his Opening Day start early and Drew Smyly landed on the 60-day disabled list with a left elbow strained flexor. Not the Mariners must improvise on the back end of their rotation.
Instead of Smyly getting the start in the fourth game, lefty Ariel Miranda makes his season debut.
Last season, Miranda went 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) for the Mariners. But he is coming off a shaky spring training in which he posted a 5.03 ERA, allowing 11 runs in 19 2/3 innings.
Miranda was originally optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on March 25 to keep him as a starter.
“He did a nice job for us last year and was really reliable for us down the stretch when we needed him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’ll be aggressive, he’ll go after them and hopefully he takes it and runs with it.”
To avoid a sweep Thursday, the Mariners’ bats are going to have to get going.
In the opening three games, Seattle mustered four runs in 31 innings. The Mariners got their first home run of the year from Jean Segura on Wednesday.
Seattle, which had the 10th-best average in the majors last season, is 16 for 110 (.145) at the plate this season.
“We’re playing some crazy games and we certainly did a lot of it last year as well,” Servais said. “We’ve got a good ballclub. We’re not swinging the bat well right now, but we’ll get it going.”
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