The Seattle Mariners are skipping Felix Hernandez's scheduled start yet again as he continues to nurse an injury. It could be coming at an especially bad time as they try to cool off a suddenly hot Houston Astros offense.
Rookie Brandon Maurer gets the ball for a spot start Wednesday night against Houston at Safeco Field.
Hernandez already missed his scheduled start Sunday against Tampa Bay due to back stiffness after leaving his most recent outing Sept. 2 due to lower back cramps. Now he'll be scratched again with no set timetable for his return.
"I guess you'd call it a minor oblique strain on the left side, if you had to put a label on it, but it was more just stiffness," manager Eric Wedge said.
Maurer (4-7, 6.85 ERA) started the year in the rotation for the Mariners (65-80) but was sent to Triple-A Tacoma after going 2-7 with a 6.93 ERA in 10 starts in the season's first two months. Perhaps the worst came in a 16-9 shelling versus Houston on April 9 as the right-hander gave up six runs and seven hits in only two-thirds of an inning.
Maurer has been used as a long reliever since being recalled in late July, posting a 6.64 ERA over eight appearances spanning 20 1-3 innings. He hasn't thrown since a 1 1-3-inning appearance in a 7-6 loss at Kansas City on Thursday.
"I'm excited. I'm ready to give it another go. I just didn't know when," Maurer told the team's official website. "I think I can go 100 (pitches). I feel good, so I will go until they tell me I can't go anymore. I feel about as fresh as I can right now."
The Astros (49-96) had another solid night at the plate, collecting 17 hits in a 13-2 victory over Seattle on Tuesday despite missing All-Star Jason Castro for a third straight game due to a sore right knee. Matt Dominguez, Chris Carter and Jose Altuve were a combined 9 for 15 with five doubles and six RBIs. Altuve's 21 hits this month lead baseball.
Houston is averaging 5.3 runs over its last nine games while batting .280, including a .333 clip with runners in scoring position.
"It definitely is contagious," manager Bo Porter said after his club recorded a season-high 10 extra-base hits. "You start to swing the bat and you start to see your teammates getting hits."
Starter Brad Peacock (4-5, 5.62) could likely use another big night from the offense given his results against the Mariners this year. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 9.64 ERA.
Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak are a combined 9 for 20 off him.
The Mariners dealt shortstop Brendan Ryan to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night in exchange for a player to be named later. The emergence of rookie shortstop Brad Miller, who is hitting .259 with 35 runs in 66 games, made Ryan more expendable as he was hitting a career-low .192.