By the time Julio Rodriguez strolled to the plate in the top of the third inning on Friday, he already had a single and a stolen base to extend his streak of consecutive at-bats with a hit to seven.
Rodriguez homered leading off the third and added a single in the fifth to match the club record with a hit in nine consecutive at-bats set by Raul Ibanez in 2004 and matched by Danny Valencia in 2017. Rodriguez did it all in the Mariners' 2-0 road win over the Houston Astros, finishing 4-for-5 with his 21st home run of the season and two stolen bases to maintain his torrid streak at the plate.
After going 4-for-6 Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals, Rodriguez posted his first five-hit game in the finale of that four-game series on Thursday. With his four-hit performance in the opener of the three-game series against Houston, he became the first player in Mariners history to record four-plus hits in three consecutive games.
The Mariners have won four straight games and will look to extend their streak on Saturday night when right-hander Logan Gilbert (10-5, 3.80 ERA) gets the starting assignment in Houston.
Gilbert is unbeaten over his last eight starts, going 5-0 with a 3.08 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings. He did not factor into the decision of his last start after allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings in the Mariners' 7-6 loss to the Royals on Monday. He posted a career-high 12 strikeouts and tossed seven scoreless innings immediately prior to that start in a 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres on Aug. 8.
Gilbert is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA over eight career starts against the Astros. In his previous start against Houston, he allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts over seven innings in a 3-1 victory on July 9.
Left-hander Framber Valdez (9-8, 3.31) is the scheduled starter for the Astros on Saturday.
Valdez has labored for a lengthy stretch, posting a 5.52 ERA with four home runs allowed in the two starts following his first career no-hitter, against the Cleveland Guardians on Aug. 1. In the five starts prior to his gem against Cleveland, Valdez was 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA and five homers allowed.
Valdez is 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA over 10 career appearances (eight starts) against the Mariners. In his lone start against Seattle this season, he allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings but did not factor into the decision of the Astros' 3-2 home win on July 8.
In handing the Astros their fifth shutout loss of the season, the Mariners continued their pitching mastery in the season series. Seattle improved to 6-2 against Houston this season, including 4-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Mariners have allowed a total of six runs in those five games and, dating to a 3-1 home victory on May 6, have surrendered seven runs in their last six games against Houston.
Rookie right-hander Bryce Miller earned his second win over the Astros during that stretch, with fellow rotation mates George Kirby, Luis Castillo and Gilbert notching wins in the previous series. Seattle closed to within 2 1/2 games of the Astros for the second spot in the American League wild-card chase, and Houston has shown precious few signs of getting its offense going in this series.
"They're getting strike one and they're not walking people," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "They're a good pitching staff. We've just got to give them credit for shutting us down."
—Field Level Media