Astros-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Astros haven't been producing much offense recently.

This is especially true when Brett Oberholtzer takes the ball.

A day after being recalled from the minors, Oberholtzer again seeks his first win Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Houston (17-32) is batting .163 with six runs during a four-game slide, going 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position. The Astros hit .299 while winning six of their previous nine.

RBI leaders Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez are a combined 4 for 28 with 11 strikeouts during the losing streak. Rookie George Springer - who slugged .579 over his last 15 games with four homers and 10 RBIs - sat out his second straight game in Friday's 6-1 loss at Seattle due to a strained right hip flexor.

Springer told the team's website he was ready to play, but manager Bo Porter erred on the side of caution, though he said the rookie outfielder has a shot to return Saturday.

Jose Altuve has seemingly been immune to the rest of the team's offensive slump, going 26 for 59 (.441) over his last 13 games.

Oberholtzer (0-6, 5.68 ERA) is plenty familiar with Houston's offensive woes having been backed with eight total runs of support in his seven starts

The left-hander began the season in the starting rotation but was sent to the minors after yielding four runs in six innings in an 11-4 loss to Detroit on May 6. In two starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, he went 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA.

This will be Oberholtzer's 18th career start, and his best one came against Seattle on Sept. 1. He tossed four-hitter while striking out five and walking one in a 2-0 win for his only complete game.

Oberholtzer was recalled to give Dallas Keuchel an extra day off after he threw a career-high 128 pitches and came one out shy of a second straight complete game against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

"You look at our starting pitching, and that's been one of our strong suits of our team this year," Porter told the Astros' official website. "We want to do everything we can to take care of those guys."

Seattle (24-23) has won four of five overall and five of six from Houston. Willie Bloomquist drove in three runs Friday while James Jones singled to extend his major league-leading hitting streak to 13 games.

Brandon Maurer (1-2, 6.00) will get the ball after his recent performances prompted the Mariners to skip his scheduled start Wednesday at Texas with the benefit of two days off in a five-day span. He lasted only 3 2-3 innings in his previous outing, allowing two runs and two hits while walking a season-high four in a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on May 14.

He posted a 2.16 ERA in four games with Triple-A Tacoma, but has thrown more than five innings just once in five outings since being recalled April 20.

"Obviously the next step is up to him," manager Lloyd McClendon told the team's website. "You've got to go out and get it done. We can talk about how close he is and the intangibles he brings and the stuff. Ultimately he has to perform on the field. But yeah, I think he's close."

Dominguez is 3 for 6 with two doubles off Maurer.

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